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#pounditWednesday, October 4, 2023

Jets chairman willing to pay fine if players kneel during anthem

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The new national anthem rules put forth by the NFL may have been unanimously approved by owners, but it sounds like at least one acting owner isn’t really in favor.

Jets acting owner and chairman Christopher Johnson said he would pay the fine if any Jets players kneel during the national anthem, and that he had no intention of instituting any team-specific rules levying any punishment against players who kneel.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

If Johnson is so reluctant to adopt the NFL’s policy, why did he vote for it?

“I seriously struggled with this,” Johnson said. “You know my position on the anthem, and you have to understand that the plan we ended up with, due to some serious work in the [meeting] room, was vastly less onerous than the one that was presented to me late last week. In the end, I felt I had to support it from a membership standpoint.”

Johnson added that he intended to speak with players and coaches to figure out how to proceed as a group in addressing social justice issues.

Johnson made clear in the past that he was firmly against any rules like the one he ultimately voted for. It’s a bit of a confusing stance, but he doesn’t appear to have much interest in enforcing it.


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