New NFL mandate requiring players to stand for national anthem sparks debate

NFL teams will be subjected to fines if a player or team personnel defies the new policy, announced yesterday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
7:24 | 05/25/18

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Transcript for New NFL mandate requiring players to stand for national anthem sparks debate
You don't want to admit we might have a problem in this country? The president of the united States inserted himself into this culture debate. The NFL is heating up. Reporter: Strong reaction to yesterday's decision by the national football league. We made modifications to our anthem policy. Reporter: Stating that players and personnel who in past seasons took a knee to protest racial injustice and police brutality must now stand and show respect for the flag and anthem. Clearly our objective as a league and all 32 clubs, which was unanimous, is that we want people to be respectful at the national anthem. Reporter: The president making his support for the decision clear today on "Fox and friends." You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country. Reporter: The new policy gives the league the right to fine clubs for violations. But the policy does give those who wish to protest a choice. If you don't want to stand, stay in the locker room or a nearby area until the song is over. Seattle seahawk Doug Baldwin says the new policy reflects a disconnect between the league and many of its players. I wasn't surprised because of the lack of empathy and the lack of understanding. But again, disappointed that there wasn't more progress, that we haven't come further than we have. Reporter: Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, lifelong Dallas cowboys fan -- I think it's a perfectly acceptable sign of protest. But a perfectly disrespectful way to treat the American flag and the national anthem. On national television. Reporter: The NFL players association issued a statement saying, in part, the NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new policy. Our union will review the new policy and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement. I don't think the policy is good because they wanted to make the anthem no longer be an ongoing talking point throughout the season. And what they've done is just left themselves open for this to continue to be in the news cycle. Reporter: The national anthem issue has become an American flash point in the country's ongoing reckoning with racial injustice. The movement began nearly two years ago when San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat on the bench during a preseason game to protest racial injustice and police brutality in America. In solidarity, over 200 other NFL players, coaches, and even owners, have followed suit, taking a knee or sitting for the anthem, became kind of a political rorschach test, seen as either an act of nonviolent protest -- We back them 100%, they're my family, my brothers. Reporter: Or a sign of disrespect. A lot of these players today are young, naive, stupid. You should stand for the national anthem. Reporter: President trump fanning the flames of that divided view. Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that Off the field right now, out, he's fired. There ain't no dividing us, you know what I'm saying? I guess we're all . Reporter: Christie says the president isn't to blame for the anthem controversy. Colin Kaepernick politicized it. He's the one who decided to bring a political public policy issue onto the football field. Reporter: NFL owners have struggled with how to balance supporting their players while honoring fans who may feel differently about the tests. Christie's friend and cowboys owner Jerry Jones is opposed to kneeling but worked out a solution for one game. You might remember he nknelt in solidarity with his players before the national anthem, but then during the national anthem, he, the coaches, and the players were all standing and showing the appropriate respect for the flag. Reporter: Other players have also had to do some soul searching on the issue. Former NFL long snapper Nate boyer famously wrote an open letter to Kaepernick against his protest in 2016, saying he was angry at first, but willing to listen. I'm not a black man in America. So I don't know what that feels like. And I never will. Reporter: The two talked and came to a compromise. He was asking me, what can I do that you think would be more respectful? Because I'm not going to stand, I'm not going to stand until I see changes. I suggested kneeling because you can often see an image of a war fighter taking a knee in front of a fallen brother's grave to pay respects. Reporter: As a former green beret, boyer says he views standing for the anthem as an act of patriotism but recognizing protesting is an American right too. I don't always agree but I ultimately fought for it. Reporter: Baldwin says he thinks the decision is ultimately about the almighty dollar. We're in a capitalistic system and the bottom line is more important than making positive change. Reporter: Evidence, he says, leaving players out of the discussion on the new policy. The NFL had an opportunity to kind of mend fences, to bridge the gap between the NFL players and the NFL itself. And it really missed out on that. Reporter: And, he says, the president is also missing out on the conversation. Come learn about what it's like to grow up in America as an African-American male. To experience the things that we experience. And really just not say anything, just shut and up listen. Because that's really what empathy is about. Reporter: Just yesterday, a reminder that being a pro athlete isn't an inoculation from the everyday daers black men in America face. Taser, taser, taser! Arrgh! Reporter: With the release of this body cam video of Milwaukee bucks player sterling brown being tased by Milwaukee police. In an exclusive interview with robin Roberts airing tomorrow on "Good morning America," brown speaks out about the incident. At first the police were saying that you were resisting, that you were being combative I think is the word they used. The video proves otherwise. Exactly. Everybody thought that you know, from -- from the beginning, you know. Thought I was combative, thought I was being aggressive. But, I mean -- I get mad every time I watch it, you know. Because I was defenseless, pretty much. I can't do nothing. And they still did what they did. The video shows no justice at what really happened. It's body cam, it's close, you can hear me screaming and tough, it's tough every time I watch it. The irony, the same day the NFL comes out with this incoherent new national anthem policy we see this video emerge. The injection that position of it, this is the reason NFL players took a knee. Reporter: Kaepernick is a free agent, yet to receive a contract offer to play and has filed a grievance against NFL saying owners have colluded to keep him from signing with NFL teams. There's such momentum against him that I really don't see him ever getting a job again in the NFL. Reporter: Last month Kaepernick received amnesty international's ambassador of conscience award for his activism. It is the people's unbroken love for themselves that motivates me even when faced with dehumanizing norms of a system that can lead to the loss of one's life over simply being black. Reporter: Baldwin says the movement has been worth it. As frustrating as the process has been, I think that there is progress that has been made and progress that will be made. We have a long ways to go, so I am hopeful and optimistic in that regard. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Ryan Smith in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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