VERIFY: Are NFL players required to stand during the National Anthem?

Baltimore Ravens players kneel for the American National anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
↓ Advertisement ↓

QUESTION:

Are NFL players required to stand during the National Anthem?

ANSWER:

No, not according the NFL nor the U.S. government.

↓ Advertisement ↓

SOURCES:

2017 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League

36 U.S. Code § 301 - National Anthem

PROCESS:

Sports fans weren't the only ones following Sunday night football. The league captured America's TV screens as team after team took a knee during renditions of the National Anthem. 

The trend began in August 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt on the sidelines during the song in protest of police brutality.

On Sunday, the social-political movement stirred again with teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins taking a knee against Trump and for NFL unity. Athletes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans were absent during the anthem.

Owners and coaches are coming out in support of their players.

This sparked people across the web sharing a so-called "rule," presumably from the NFL handbook:

"The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the NFL League Rulebook. It states: ‘The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition … It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.’"

Looking at the 2017 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League, we can immediately Verify this one is False. No where in the rule book does the NFL mention the National Anthem. Pages 62 and 63 contain information on the enforcement of fouls.

One viewer the Verify team whether there's a federal law that requires players to stand at attention and salute the flag. But the code, 36 U.S. Code § 301, pertains to military service members in uniform, not athletes in jerseys and tights.