After a huge backlash from some fans, there was less and less talk about the NFL and the protests during the playing of the national anthem as last season progressed.
But perhaps wary of renewed problems during the 2018 season, NFL owners on Wednesday released a new policy statement regarding rules for players and team personnel during the playing of the anthem.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted the six rules, which will take effect this fall. It says that owners "strongly believe that":
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 requirements 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.
"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," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
Goodell told reporters that he hoped all the players would be on the field for the anthem.
"We're going to encourage all of them to be on the field. We'd like all of them to be on the field and stand at attention," Goodell said, per Twitter user Nate Jones.
The NFL Players Association issued a statement after the new rule was announced.
"The NFL chose not to consult the union in the development of this new 'policy.' NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
"The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.
"Our union will review the new 'policy' and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement."
Protests during the playing of the national anthem have been an issue since 2016, when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started not standing for the anthem. Teammate Eric Reid soon joined, and others followed suit, including former Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters.
"The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed," Goodell said in the statement. "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."