The NFL's new national-anthem policy was not as unanimous as the league wants people to believe

Brandon Wiggins
Roger Goodell

LM Otero/AP


  • When the NFL unveiled its controversial new national-anthem policy on Thursday, its commissioner, Roger Goodell, said it had received unanimous support from team owners.
  • But two owners say they did not vote on the policy, casting doubt on Goodell's statement.
  • At least three teams have indicated they did not support the new policy.

In announcing the NFL's controversial new policy requiring players on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a fine, the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a press conference on Thursday that it was "unanimously adopted" by team owners.

But ESPN reported Thursday that the league never took a formal vote on the new policy, adding that "not taking an official tally is atypical for a major resolution."

An NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, confirmed to ESPN that there was no formal vote, saying there were zero "nays" in a show of hands to gauge support.

"That was considered a vote," McCarthy said.

But news reports and statements from a few team owners show that not everybody supported the new policy.

ESPN reported that Mark Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, and Jed York, the owner of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained from the vote.

York told ESPN earlier this week of the vote: "Teams that voted on it voted affirmatively."

Meanwhile, Chris Johnson, the chairman of the New York Jets, went so far as to say he would pay fines imposed on his players under the national-anthem policy.

It's also worth noting, per The Charlotte Observer, that David Tepper, the new Carolina Panthers owner, can't vote on the policy until the sale of the team officially closes in July.

The NFL's new policy, adopted in response to several NFL players and others who have knelt during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, has already come under fire by critics — and now it has the appearance that the league was trying to mislead people about its support among team owners.

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