NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the vote was unanimous among all 32 teams in the league.
But San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York told reporters at the NFL owners meetings that the policy to prohibit players from any form of protest during the national anthem did not include his support.
49ers players chimed in Wednesday during the team's state of the franchise event at San Jose's California Theatre.
"I'm not even sure the details on everything, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there," veteran offensive lineman Joe Staley said.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said: "I'm glad they gave an option for the players, I guess. I haven't really read into it, but it's still pretty early on, so I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing."
The new NFL policy regarding the national anthem states::
- All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag the Anthem.
- Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
- A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
- Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
- The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
“All 32 clubs want to make sure that during the moment of the anthem and the flag that that is a very important moment to all of us, as a league, as clubs, personally to our country,” Goodell said at a press conference in Atlanta. “And that’s a moment we want to make sure is done in a very respectful fashion.”
But York told a group of reporters the 49ers abstained from the vote. Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports was first to report York’s revelation. York has publicly supported the rights of 49ers players to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully.
“I think there are a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to get into all of those reasons. But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything that we’re doing is to promote progress. And I think we’ve done a good piece of that so far,” York said, as reported by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.
The 49ers have been at the center of the movement to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid began kneeling at the start of the 2016 season. Kaepernick did not play in the league last year, but Reid continued kneeling, along with teammates Eli Harold, Marquise Goodwin and others. Reid has remained unsigned as an unrestricted free agent.
The NFL Players Association fired back at the NFL policy, stating the players have demonstrated their patriotism, in part, "through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about."