Cornerback Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers accused Jerry Jones of having a “plantation mentality.”
Other owners have been more conciliatory. Jed York, whose family owns the San Francisco 49ers, abstained from voting on the new policy. Chris Johnson, the acting owner of the Jets, said players who protested would not be penalized.
In Florida, the Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said he would not discuss the anthem issue with his players and does not want to be caught between the owner’s rules and the players.
“I’m coaching football,” he told the Palm Beach Post. “I’m not dealing with all of this.”
The players who protested on Thursday may not be penalized. After the N.F.L. Players Association filed a grievance in July arguing that the new policy violated the N.F.L.’s collective bargaining agreement, the league agreed to freeze the enforcement of the policy while it tries to work out a potential solution with the union.
Meanwhile, the player who was the first to protest in 2016, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has not returned to the N.F.L. He filed a grievance against the league, accusing the owners of conspiring to keep him out of job.
The league appears to be going to great lengths to tamp down any hint of protest. According to Pro Football Talk, Electronic Arts, which makes the Madden video game, deleted Kaepernick’s name, along with various profanities, from the song “Big Bank” by YG, which serves as a soundtrack to the video game. Electronic Arts later claimed the deletion was a miscommunication about the company’s ability to reproduce Kaepernick’s likeness in the game, and the company vowed to restore the references to his name.
Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s teammate on the 49ers who also regularly knelt during the playing of the national anthem in 2016 and 2017, is also unsigned. He, too, has filed a grievance against the league.