Richard Sherman: Anthem talks with NFL encouraging

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, a vice president of the NFL Players Association's executive committee, said an initial conversation took place Tuesday between his group and NFL officials about finding a potential resolution to the league's anthem policy.

The NFL was "open and amicable," to forthcoming dialogue with players and "they should be commended for being open to players," Sherman said.

The NFLPA and the league announced last week they would hold discussions after controversial reaction and an NFLPA grievance was filed after NFL owners enacted a policy in May that mandated players and team officials stand for the playing of the anthem before games.

As part of that rule, players have the option to stay in the locker room during the playing of the anthem. Teams that have players violate the rule could be fined. Teams also can discipline players who violate the rule. The enforcement of the new policy has been put on hold while the NFL and NFLPA try to find a solution -- if they can.

The NFLPA's grievance also was put on hold as part of the conversations between players and the NFL.

Players were not consulted before owners created the rule in May, which caused consternation from some players and at least one owner, 49ers CEO Jed York. York, who said that he abstained from voting on the anthem measure because players were not involved. York admitted to texting Sherman during the owners' formulation of the rule to update Sherman on developments.

Sherman, after a news conference with some 49ers players, said Wednesday that the tenor of the initial conversation between players and league officials was encouraging from the NFL's willingness to listen to player input. No suggestions about possible changes were submitted on Tuesday's conference call and Sherman said that he was unsure when follow-up talks would take place.

NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell created a new policy last spring to clarify the league's previous anthem policy that said players "should" stand during the anthem.

The decision from owners to come up with a firm policy stemmed, in part, from some players kneeling or making gestures during the playing of the anthem in protest to police brutality and other inequalities toward minorities. That movement started in 2016, when former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sat, then later kneeled during the playing of the anthem in protest. Kaepernick has not found work in the NFL over the past two seasons and has filed a collusion grievance against the league.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins did a sit-down interview on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt Wednesday and addressed if the protests are good for football.

"That's not my concern. We can talk about social issues and still have a great game," he stated. "We talk about domestic violence for a whole year. We talk about breast cancer for a whole month. Every year. We wear pink on the field and there is no issues with that.

"When we start talking about black issues and issues of race, now all of the sudden we just want football. We don't want all the extra stuff. We just want to watch the game. No you can't (have it both)."

Jenkins is the co-founder of the Players Coalition, which is a group of NFL Players working towards improving police and community relations while advocating for criminal justice and economic reform.

"I think at the end of the day, protest and fighting back is the American way," Jenkins said when asked if the protests are un-American. "That is the most American thing you can do. Use your voice."

During the season on the Eagles sideline, Jenkins would hold up his fist during the anthem as a form of protest against social injustice. Has the kneeling and clinched fists run its course?

"I think it is starting to shift. I don't think it is as important," he said. "I think the purpose of all their demonstrations was to create dialogue. It is more about the work now."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter at @wyche89

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