(RNN) - As it stands, the NFL does not have a rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem.
But after last season's public relations nightmare, that could change this year.
Albert Breer, a reporter for NBC Boston, said his sources told him the league is considering letting the home team decide if the teams will be on the field before or after the anthem.
Should the teams be present for the anthem and any players kneel, that player’s team will be assessed 15-yard penalties.
Per sources, one anthem idea being discussed: Leaving it up to home team on whether teams come out for the anthem; if teams do come out for the anthem, potential that teams could be assessed 15-yard penalties for kneeling.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 22, 2018
The league does have rules and regulations on the game itself. When a penalty is assessed on both teams, the yardage and previous play are negated, and the down is replayed from the previous spot of the ball.
Given that regulation, a rule such as the one Breer’s sources are suggesting seems difficult to enforce if players on both teams kneel. It would also create a battle with the NFLPA and it would likely serve as something for the players to rally around.
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first player to kneel during the national anthem during the 2016 season. He was protesting police brutality and social injustices affecting the African American community.
Other players joined in, but not on a large scale.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, President Donald Trump berated the NFL and said he’d like to see any player who kneels during the anthem be fired.
That, and calling the kneelers "sons of b*****s," led to the protest growing to a large scale. Hundreds of players, and in some cases entire teams, participated in solidarity demonstrations before games that weekend.
Backlash grew towards the NFL for allowing the demonstrations. Some considered it anti-America and disrespectful to the military. Many fans stopped watching NFL games altogether and pointed to protests during the anthem as the reason why.
Even so, the demonstrations died back down except for a handful of players.
Kaepernick has not been in the NFL since the 2016 season. He has filed a lawsuit against the league saying the team owners have colluded to keep him out.
Safety Eric Reid became a free agent after the 2018 season. He has not been signed to a roster and believes his kneeling and vocal support of Kaepernick are the reasons why.
Reid has also filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.
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