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Kickoffs, anthem protests among key rulings made at NFL owners’ meeting

The league’s 32 team owners met this week and made a number of decisions; here is a summary of each.

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This week, NFL team owners convened in Atlanta, Georgia for their last collective meeting of the offseason and they addressed numerous issues concerning the league, the game and its players. Here are the most significant rulings which came down this week.

Kickoff changes

The good news is that the NFL has not chosen to eradicate kickoffs—and thus leave a lot of special-teamers potentially unemployed—just yet. Instead, they have passed the proposed alterations to kickoffs in an attempt to reduce the harm of what has become the most physically dangerous moment in any given game. These rules are illustrated in the below tweet by the league’s Football Operations Department:

Ejection review

In addition to clarifying the language in “use of helmet” rule, which will lead to player ejection upon enforcement, the NFL team owners also approved review of those fouls and their subsequent ejections, much like the NCAA has employed in their “targeting” calls.

Updates on 2019, 2020 NFL Draft sites

As expected, Nashville was named the locale for the 2019 NFL Draft. However, Canton, the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has not yet been ruled out for 2020. In fact, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times believes that “all signs point to” Northeastern Ohio playing host for what will be the NFL’s centennial celebration.

Super Bowl cities revealed

The 2023 Super Bowl will be held in Glendale, Arizona, while 2024’s will return to New Orleans. Team owners also agreed to get rid of the bidding process for future Super Bowls; now, the league will simply offer the game to a city.

David Tepper now owns the Carolina Panthers

The 31 other team owners approved the sale of the Carolina Panthers from Jerry Richardson to David Tepper. Tepper purchased the team for $2.275 billion.

Richardson put the team up for sale after it was revealed that he’s, frankly, a terrible person. He’s now been rewarded for his racism and sexual harassment with an unimaginable sum of money.

National Anthem protests

The NFL will no longer require players to stand on the sidelines during the playing of the National Anthem, but has decided to impose fines on players who take a knee or otherwise present acts of protest if their team opts to emerge from the locker room during its playing. A full accounting of how and why this came about can be found here, in a breakdown by SBNation’s Christian D’Andrea and Adam Stites.

Though touted as a compromise, the new ruling still seems to ignore the reason for the protests—systemic, all-pervasive, institutionalized racism—and has understandably been met with extensive backlash.

The league, via commissioner Roger Goodell, released a statement and outlined the guidelines of the new policy:

1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

2.The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.

3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.

4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

While the league touted the ruling as unanimous, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York said that his club abstained from the vote. The NFLPA, the players’ labor union, also seems poised for a legal fight. And Christopher Johnson, the New York Jets’ chairman and CEO, also seems more open to his players’ input and isn’t interested in fining or disciplining players who choose to protest:

NFL players were not consulted prior to the vote, in but one example of many of how this new policy is anything but a compromise.