The unveiling of a new national anthem policy on Wednesday prompted some NFL players to voice their dissent on social media. One used a sports radio talk show to accuse the NFL of caring solely about its bottom line. Others offered similar sentiments in meetings with the media this week.
The rule change didn’t appear to have triggered the same reaction inside the Chiefs' locker room during this week's organized team activities (OTAs). The policy will prohibit players from taking a knee during the anthem, though it allows them to stay in the locker room as it is played. If a player violates the rule, fines against his team will follow.
Asked if the Chiefs have discussed the rule as a team, coach Andy Reid said, “No, we didn’t do that.” He later was more expansive — but still matter-of-fact — on the potential response from Chiefs players.
“I don’t want this to be slighted — we never discuss those things,” Reid said. “I don’t mean to be rude. We keep that in-house. And we communicate when the communication needs to be taken care of. We’ve always been good with that. So it’s not to be rude to anybody. We understand the rule. So you go with it.
“There will be a time when we address it and talk about it, but that will be within the team. Nobody else needs to really know. It deals with all of us in that room. That’s not to slight anybody or any situation or anything. Please don’t take it that way.”
Reid said he discussed the rule change with Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt, who called to inform him of the new policy. Each of the past two seasons, Hunt has said that he prefers players stand during the anthem but “at the end of the day, it’s their decision.”
Cornerback Marcus Peters sat as the anthem was played last season. Hunt said then that he and Peters had a productive conversation on the issue. In the offseason, Peters was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, though Reid and general manager Brett Veach did not relate the two — Peters' decision to not stand, and his departure from KC.
Asked if the Chiefs players have talked about the new policy amongst themselves, quarterback Patrick Mahomes said, “No, not yet. It just happened yesterday, so for me, I haven’t got to really get into it.”
The anthem policy was one of a handful of rules changes the NFL adopted during its spring owners meetings this week in Atlanta. Another will more harshly punish those responsible for helmet-to-helmet collisions.
The initiator of such contact will now be subject to a potential ejection. After a video review, those decisions will be made in New York.
“It can be harder for (some) people and easier for other people,” Chiefs safety Eric Berry said of adjusting to the rule. “That’s with anything. It’s just the fact that a head-to-head collision can get you into trouble.
“It’s definitely an emphasis, but I think it’s possible (to avoid).”
The entire Chiefs roster was present for OTAs on Thursday. Berry and linebacker Justin Houston had skipped the voluntary sessions in the past.
Three players were unable to take part this week — center Mitch Morse, wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas and running back Spencer Ware. All three are rehabbing from surgeries.
“They’re doing well, but right now, they’re not going to practice during this period here,” Reid said.
With Morse out, the Chiefs shifted Cam Erving to center for 11-on-11 drills.
“Cam’s a guy that can play everywhere,” Reid said. “He played center his last year in college and got a nice feel for it, so we put him in there with Mitch being down. We’re giving him some snaps. I think he’s done a heck of a job. That’s a tough position. He’s got a lot of responsibility. He’s the transmitter between the right and left side. He’s done a good job with that.”