Taking a knee: How Colin Kaepernick started an NFL movement
After owners voted on a national anthem policy Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners took the podium and touted how the vote had been unanimous.
That may have been the case, but one owner, 49ers CEO Jed York, abstained from the vote, telling reporters afterward that he wanted to discuss the issue further with the players and that he was considering halting concession sales during the anthem ceremony.
"I don't think we should be profiting if we're going to put this type of attention and focus on the field and on the flag," he told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
The new policy states that players who do not want to stand during the national anthem ceremony may remain in the locker room. Those who take the field, however, are expected "to show respect for the flag and the anthem."
The teams of players that don't, the policy states, will be subject to fines from the NFL. Teams also are expected to come up with their own set of rules consistent with the league's stance.
While York has not encouraged player protests, he has been among the most sympathetic owners of their right to do so. Two of the most prominent NFL players who have knelt in recent years, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, played for York and the 49ers. Both remain unsigned after becoming free agents, Kaepernick having done so in March 2017.
In 2016, the 49ers pledged $1 million toward the same social justice causes Kaepernick and the players support. Last year, Reid said he was grateful he has backing from York.
He “expressed very clearly that he wants to support us," Reid said in October. "That he’s not going to force us to do anything. Speaking for our team, that’s what he’s told me explicitly.”
Though Reid was the most prominent 49er who protested last season, Eli Harold, Arik Armstead, Marquise Goodwin, Reuben Foster, K'Waun Williams and Dekoda Watson also knelt at times.