EAGAN, Minn. (KMSP) - Following months of national controversy on how to handle players protesting police brutality and racial inequality by kneeling for the national anthem, the NFL announced new rules Wednesday.
“We want people to stand, that’s all personnel and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion—that’s something we think we owe,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The movement, spearheaded by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, drew criticism from President Donald Trump who called on owners to fire players who participated.
Different from the previous policy, these changes no longer require players to be on the field during the anthem. If they wish to protest, they can stay inside the locker room or off the field until the anthem is over.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says he expects his team to respect the flag.
“I was proud of my team last year—they stood for the anthem—I think it’s important we stand for the anthem,” said Zimmer. “I think it’s important we represent our country the right way—the flag the right way.”
Unlike other teams, not one Vikings player took a knee last year.
"I’m going to go out there and stand up for that flag, but at the same time the military has fought for those freedoms to allow those guys to make that decision,” said Brian Robison, Vikings defensive end.
Former Vikings star Chuck Foreman understands the players’ reasons for kneeling, especially players of color. He finds it concerning that the NFL will now crack down on teams whose players peacefully protest, but hopes this movement moves in another direction.
“If you see something that’s not right stand up and bring attention to it however you can, but after you bring the attention—then you need to go fix it—and that’s where we are with the NFL and the kneeling thing—we got to go fix it,” said Foreman.
One former Vikings player, Sage Rosenfels, is highly critical of the new rules and voicing his thoughts on Twitter, which garnered a lot of reactions. He suggested if players need to stand during the anthem, then people should also be prohibited from buying beer and food as well.