Next season, NFL players and personnel will be prevented from protesting racial injustice on the sideline while the national anthem is being played, the league announced Wednesday. The new rule mandates that players on the field must stand while the anthem is being played. It also eliminates a requirement that players be on the field before the game, allowing them to protest in the locker room.
Amid the initial reaction over the league's new rule, it was hard to find much support beyond a majority of the league's owners and vice president Mike Pence, who tweeted out a screenshot of CNN's homepage along with "#winning."
The American Civil Liberties Union was among the groups that blasted the new rule, calling it "dangerous and un-American" and criticizing the league for painting its players as unpatriotic.
The NFL players union said the league did not consult the union in developing its new policy toward sideline protests, and that the vote in favor of such a policy by NFL owners contradicts statements made to players by Goodell and John Mara, the chairman of the NFL's management council.
Former ESPN reporter Jane McManus pointed out on Twitter that at least six owners donated $1 million each to the inauguration of President Trump, who has spoken out repeatedly against players protesting racial injustice during the anthem.
"Trump blasted the league over players kneeling," McManus wrote. "A policy on the anthem is inherently political, and it's about appeasement."
On Inside Politics, CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly pointed to a line in Goodell's statement that it was "unfortunate" that player protests created a false perception that players were unpatriotic.
"When you're saying that 'this didn't mean they're unpatriotic, this wasn't the reason they were doing this,' and now you're fining them. all it does is lead into the improper perception that this was about patriotism, this was about disrespecting the troops, this was about all of these things," Mattingly said.
"It's about players who are Americans exercising this thing we kind of cherish we call our First Amendment right," Inside Politics host John King responded.
Here is more immediate reaction in the sports world from reporters, media critics and on-air personalities: