NFL policy on anthem protests draws criticism

President Trump praised the change, but players argue it's a violation of their First Amendment rights.
13:32 | 05/24/18

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Transcript for NFL policy on anthem protests draws criticism
Welcome to ABC news I'm Serena Marshall it was just yesterday that the NFL announced a new policy Gillen now allow players to remain in the locker in during the National Anthem of but those that do take the field. No longer be allowed to protest the NFL commissioner same name a show respect for the flag and hand them. Joining me today we had ESPN's undefeated senior and a songwriter Jason reed. Now Jason before we get an end to this new policy he just refresh everyone's memory on why this protest started and the beginning. Yeah that's a good that's very important to do because a lot of them lost. And the story in the narrative really has been. Just distorted. This was really about. Build the problems of police brutality. The problem all of you know in in black and brown communities the relationship between those communities in the police department if remember. There were two high profile cases were black -- black men were killed at the hands of police. Alton sterling. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And flatow can steal in Minnesota and those two cases really be. Brought. People together there was a feeling that this is just wrong that these things were caught on tape. Then you know the presence of video obviously has a profound effect on a lot of things and Colin -- critic who was quarterback with the surface it's a 49ers. He decided to protest. To shine a light a racial injustice and what he initially did. Was sit. Before pre season football game during the at them and any Neil. And it when we look back war on what happened and how this whole thing started we're talking about two years ago. And we're talking about going to 2016. Season and Kaplan it really ignited a movement. You know people talk about wire leaders and healing in the you know what do you know don't do this on your own time well wherever you come down on the on this. Subject. The bottom line is is that Colin Capp predict initially was trying. To draw attention. Two problems. That people in communities of color feel they have had for some time with police departments. And Jason on a touch on up what you just maybe he started this protest by sitting and then switched to kneeling now is why did you decide to do that I had read it was because players often Neil when there's another injured player on the field and that had something to do with that as well. Well he he would talk to you talked to. Someone was served in the military. And you know sitting was considered disrespectful but. Often times people do menial. It's it's more of a respectful gestures just to show that how you feel about something to so kind of reverence towards something it. That's why he changed seemingly you know he liked it he initially sat. But then from consulting with peoples okay we'll may be kneeling would be a better way to go and so he was trying to be. More respectful respectful kind of a nod toward people felt like we'll sitting just completely disrespectful but taking me that signify something. You don't more respectful and obviously. There are a lot of people feel that that was as disrespectful. If not more disrespectful than sitting but he was trying to find another way which might be considered. You know. Better than just sitting down. Now let's get it to this new policy that the NFL commissioner announced just yesterday. Why do you decide to do that now it seems this is got out of the headlines is not currently football c.s and and even at the end of last year's season it seems have kind of dissipate it. Well yes I mean everything's that is true but we have to remember we don't know what other situations arise in the future and that's what the unifil was. Extremely afraid of that there could be some other major national event. That prompted players to take a knee again and because of the NFL's game operations Bream operations manual the way it was worded if that players should stand it didn't think players have to stand in the NBA players have to stand at attention during the mess left them. So the league wanted to remove that ambiguity we wanted to take a position of OK well. This is a problem for us and even though I believe at the end of the season only seven players when you win at that point. Some but the league's position was even though. This is not as prominent as it once was. It could happen again. Now the league made a major mistake with this if from policy it tried to thread the needle. Always said well. You know one of the optics of of making players simply stand that looks bad. You know do we want to keep them in the locker room we need to do something because we have fans were set. That this is in their opinion disrespectful to the military district disrespectful to police so what they did was that really tried to split the baby essentially so well. Players have the options to stay in the locker room right now but if they come out on the field. They have to stand at attention and show respect for the flag if they don't. The legal fine clubs and an individual clubs can determine whether enough they want to find players. But you seem to mean this this makes no sense if you want to stand with your players and show that okay. We're trying to be more for progressively. Do what you say is players can can continue do what they're doing and you re right begin operations met with say. Players have the right to protest. All of the silent if they choose to you make it definitive in clear that they have that right or you could come down on the side of the corporate sponsors and the people who feel it's a very disrespectful act to kneel and say no just like the NBA. That the National Anthem is not negotiable and you have to stay at. What they did was they did not either so you bit the aim of this whole thing was to. Take this issue out of the new was an unfortunate for the NFL almost on his with a sample policy is we keep this issue in the news for some time. Jason talking about that ambiguity they didn't really outline what that's fine would be today decided if it. It what kneeling necessarily is they define that as it one knee is it too is it raising your arm over your head. Today had any other policy guidelines that kind of clear up what protesting on a silent during the anthem would. It would be. Putting it in Texas that's another major problem they answered no they did not do that and you're talking to owners yesterday resupplied meetings in Atlanta what some of them so was well. We specifically. Did not want to going to deal until those things and what one or so to me. You know I don't know what disrespectfully as a problem know what what I see it kind of like the definition of obscenity. But the problem is that doesn't work because what you gonna have is. Players may feel like okay. This is not disrespectful I think my mind I think it's respectful their formula do it well than the club gets five into the team can find the player so. Because they've left this thing. With so many details not no what are what are the findings are gonna be a tiered system for the fire if one player protest OK the club was fine once but if two players. On the same team protest doesn't club get hit with 25 there's so much unknown about this and after two years remember Colin -- started this in 2016. After two years and in three hours of discussions in Atlanta over two days. How could this be the best thing you came up with when you try to take this issue out of the new. It's yet sounds like they're going to be talking about this for awhile and of course there's the trump a fact right Jason I mean we heard from the president actually just today talking about this. He had just thank. Good idling paper should be staying in locker rooms but still I think it's good you have to stand. Proudly for the national we shouldn't be playing you shouldn't be there may be should be. In the country you have to stand proudly for the National Anthem and the NFL owners do the right thing and that's what they've done. And the pastor Robert Kraft is that Ana FL owner for the patriots and a trump supporter said the problem we have is we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission. And I don't feel that's in the best interests of America. Is right to exist is gonna be used by the president announcement come on more of a political issue especially given those unclear guide. Lines what we see you senator incendiary words we saw them previously when the president said that the players who you were notably from port impact of his sons of and that's really would galvanize the players you know. As I travel the country over the past couple years talking to players about this issue. Many of them had felt that it was time to stop kneeling because the reality of it was their message was co opted by the people felt that was disrespectful. And they felt that they were not getting that the intended. Being the intended goals were not being reached with what they would try to do in terms of shining a light on racial injustice so many. Many of the core players with who were dealing citadel will stop doing it well than the president said the comments. About them you know and he did not see those things about the though the white supremacist who marched with torches. And what it did was listen for the African American players in NFL. It made them feel like the president left them no choice. But to rise up and come together and say no this is wrong and we have to demonstrate and we have to show that we can't be we can't allow. The the present of the United States to talk about us this way so I think moving forward. I would be shocked especially as we move into the midterm elections if the president. And the president presents surrogates and other people we hope people running for office in congress and the senate who. Think the way the president does I would be shocked if those people did not use the NFL and the AF the ongoing anthem policy issue. And used to try to use its observance admit to their. Oh advantage in political rallies. When they're giving speeches. And his overall in their campaigns. You're really gonna see this issue become even more politicized as management's of the fall and then there's a question of the first amendment's now the NFL as a private institution doesn't necessarily protect the First Amendment in the same way but you expect players hit protest against this but the players' union. Well of fortune for the players the vehicles subject to collective bargaining. Except with the game operations mend political game operations manual is not part of the CPA so beautiful has great latitude with what it can do in terms say this is how we want our games to be run. So that there really isn't much the union can do now. As we move forward with this and we see how it develops a what happens. You know in terms of the players staying in the lock room. That may be the new form of protest maybe players OK we're not gonna go to a doctor what to feel them for the corps to define. And the frost to defraud and then maybe potentially for our jobs to be in jeopardy. Waldman a stay in the locker room. And believe me. If if all of the African American players are large number of African American players at other players were also sympathetic to those causes stay in the locker room and you see that in their ten players on the sideline before game against. That's going to cause a lot of problems. Now I'm. Pitted us a little bit too sterling brown sterling brown and Milwaukee Bucks player who is -- recently. And this is coming at the same time of this conversation these protests as you mentioned it began. With questions over racial bison and policing and so we have some of that video as well. That we can roll at that hazing incidents. But are you hearing players react to this incidents taking it back to the kneeling incidence and kind of combining them given the timing. So all the same day that the tape of of of what happened to him. Was released the NFL owners came down with they're this very new and desolate and policy so you know the juxtaposition of that clearly. NFL player's worth thinking about that I know that a pro players I talked to after the FM policy cannot and we saw the video of what happened Milwaukee they were like well this is what we're talking about. This is why we feel we we we do need to do things as what we do feel we need to protest this this was really. Everything that capped her naked Eric Reed and and other players who protest that we're talking about all along and we see it there on the videotape we see on the videotape again and again I think NFL players. As we move toward the 2018 season they're gonna have that videotape on their mind they're going to be thinking about the fact OK well what rhetoric is what runner for the hearing from politicians. That are. About bet. And as they determine what they want to do and you see the video you see these things we continue to happen that. That's going to dictate what they do in the future I believe. And so what have you been hearing from players are they planning to sit in a lot Graham are they planning to take to the field and find a different way to protest. What what this there right now mean I'd in the in the last 24 hours I've communicated with seven. I'd say veteran NFL players and what they've told me is like we're gonna wait and see but clearly the lead did not. Do something that they felt was the right thing to do the leak had a chance here to get an opportunity really make a bold statement. In support of players and they chose not to do that that's what Yahoo! that's what political players are saying right. Now. Jason reed thank you for joining us and we will have sterling brown sit down exclusively with Robin Roberts come tomorrow on Good Morning America I'm intrigue to an end. For all the latest on this story and everything else that holiday eighty scene in zapper go to abcnews.com. I'm Serena Marshall have a good night.

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

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