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NFL announces national anthem policy

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new national anthem policy Wednesday at league meetings in Atlanta. Beginning this season, players on the sideline must stand for the "Star Spangled Banner," but they also may choose to remain in the locker room.

Goodell will impose "appropriate discipline" for those on the field who do not stand for the national anthem.

Here are the six principles for the new NFL policy:

  1. All teams and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.
  1. The game operations manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
  1. 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.
  1. A club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand show respect for the flag and the anthem.
  1. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles regarding its personnel who don't stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.
  1. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.

Bears coach Matt Nagy said after practice Wednesday that the team will discuss the issue as a group at some point in the future.

"For us as a team, we'll do it together," Nagy said. "We'll talk it through. From what I was told, there were no issues with this team last year, which is great. We'll communicate it, we'll talk it out and we'll make sure we're listening to everybody and trying to do the right thing as much as we can. I know it's a touchy subject, but I feel confident we'll do it together."

While other players throughout the NFL took a knee to protest racial injustice last year, all Bears players stood during the national anthem all season, locking arms in a show of unity.

"I'm just proud of how our team handled it last year and in the past and I believe we'll all stay on the field this year," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "I think [the new policy] is all about eliminating distractions for the team and for the audience. It is what it is."

The following is Commissioner Goodell's statement on the new mandate:

"The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL's ongoing commitment to local communities and our country -- one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

"The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

"It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.

"We believe today's decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it -- and on our fans who enjoy it."

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