Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says national anthem discipline language the team submitted to the NFL was merely a placeholder, emphasizing no decisions have been made regarding whether the Dolphins would punish players for protesting during the anthem.
Ross clarified the team's position on the matter in a message released Friday:
The development comes after a Dolphins source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that the NFL was requiring every team to submit conduct rules for the national anthem before players reported to training camp. The Dolphins and other teams submitted their plans to the league this week.
However, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced in a joint statement Thursday that league and team policies regarding anthem conduct will not be issued or enforced for several weeks as part of a standstill agreement between the two sides.
The discipline language the Dolphins submitted to the league, according to the Associated Press, stated players "could be suspended for up to four games." The AP added that the Dolphins classified the discipline under a large list of "conduct detrimental to the club" items.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the maximum discipline for conduct detrimental to the club is a week's salary or a suspension of up to four games. A source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Michael Silver, however, it is unrealistic that any player would be suspended four games for kneeling during the anthem if the policy was enforced.
The on-hold national anthem policy, which was approved by the NFL in May, would require players and league personnel on the sideline to stand. Players and personnel also would have the option to remain in the locker room if they didn't choose to stand.
Individual clubs also would have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chose to protest on the sideline the NFL would fine the team. Players could also be fined by their teams, per the policy.
"It's a labor issue. If the league were to fine players that would be a collective bargaining issue and that means that the union would have to be involved in those discussions," NFL Network's Jim Trotter said on NFL Total Access. "But if a team fines a player that is a workplace issue and it is beyond the collective bargaining. From that standpoint the league was really playing chess here thinking one step ahead and saying, how can we avoid potentially another court battle with our players over this?"