The NFL and its owners are threatening to fire athletes and players’ families if they don’t comply with their demands that players stand for the national anthem.
The NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, said Thursday that players could be fired for kneeling during the anthem, as well as for refusing to stand for it.
If players continue to kneel, the league says, “you’re fired.”
If players do not stand for “the national anthem” and don’t take a knee during the playing of the national song, the NFL says, players “will be subject to discipline and/or termination” if the owners and players cannot agree on a new policy.
Ownership of the NFL has been in turmoil for several months as a group of players have refused to stand during the national anthems during games.
On Tuesday, the owners’ union announced that it was filing a grievance against Commissioner Roger Goodell over the players’ protest.
Goodell has denied any wrongdoing, and the NFLPA has said the players are not exercising their rights.
On Wednesday, the players union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia seeking to block the union’s efforts to block enforcement of Goodell’s contract.
The lawsuit alleges that the NFL is attempting to enforce Goodell’s unconstitutional contract and that Goodell and the league are violating the National Labor Relations Act.
Goodell’s office has denied the allegations and the union said Thursday the lawsuit is baseless.
The players union is expected to file its complaint Friday, and Vincent told reporters at a conference call that it could come as soon as Thursday.
The union has said it is ready to file a grievance, but Vincent said it was unclear if that would be possible.
The suit alleges that Goodell has violated the National Football League Act, the Players Association’s collective bargaining agreement and the Constitution.
Vincent said he is confident the NFL and players will reach an agreement.
The protests have led to some negative headlines, including a tweet from the head of a major league sports league, which read, “We are the NFL, we’re not going to bow down to the kneeing and chanting of our fans.
You’re Fired!” and a video of former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis and former Pittsburgh Steelers player Maurkice Pouncey kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in an attempt to protest police brutality and police brutality against minorities.
NFL players have also protested against police brutality, including against the death of Eric Garner, who died in New York after being placed in a chokehold by New York City police officers.
The kneeling players and the protest have led some to question whether kneeling should be considered a protest.
The National Football Association released a statement Wednesday in which it said the NFL will remain committed to supporting the anthem and players who kneel should be allowed to do so.
The league said it has also made clear that players should stand for both the anthem as a collective statement of our support and to show respect for our flag and our country.
The statement said the league and the players agree that the protest should not be an act of disrespect, but it added: “In the future, we may find that players will be disciplined or terminated for protesting the flag and the anthem in an effort to further our shared goals of promoting unity, unity of purpose and respect.”
The NFL said it’s not concerned that the protests would spark violence or protests against the country or its police.
The anthem has been a major theme in the 2017 presidential campaign and at some points this season.
President Donald Trump has said that kneeling during it is an “act of disrespect” and called on the NFL to “let our players kneel!”
Trump has also said he doesn’t think that kneeling for the anthem is a big deal.
He has not said whether he will keep his campaign promise to ban NFL players from kneeling during or after the anthem.