The National Football League very quietly changed a rather obscure ruling about the details of what players have to do whilst the National Anthem is being played.

This is the NFL We Know Well

After receiving all of the public relations publicity it could possibly have wanted, including a trite Sports Illustrated cover, the leadership of the NFL has reverted back to its far more familiar demeanour. It is the manner they are best-known for adopting, namely reminding their players that unless they get in line they will soon be joining the unemployment line.

The punters who enjoy the online betting NZ and the rest of the world offers are waiting along with the rest of us with bated breath to see where the axe falls.

Jerry Jones Joins the Fray

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, released a statement on Monday saying that if any of his players were disrespectful to the flag at any point they simply would not go on to the field. The National Football League then upped the ante by providing a titbit of information to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, which he reported just before the station broadcasted Monday Night’s Football game.

The New Game Operational Manual

Mortensen tweeted the info fed to him by the NFL, which quotes the part of the game’s operations manual that deals with the national anthem issue.

It states that all players have to present on the sideline when the anthem was played, standing at attention, and holding their helmets in their left hands. According to Mortensen’s tweet, the NFL, and this updated version of the operations manual, failure to pay proper respect may result in disciplinary action, which could take the form of fines, suspension from play, and/or forfeiture of draft choices, quote unquote.

The Previous Game Operational Manual

Officially named the Policy Manual for Member Clubs, the game operational manual is not easily accessed from the NFL site like the rulebook for the league is. Actually, the only existing portion of this document that is available to the public is the portion dealing with anthem-related issues, which the League has been spoon-feeding to a number of sources over the past weeks.

This policy, which the NFL has been very clear to define as such, rather than a rule, has not, in fact always been phrased in this way. It is not exactly outlined as a crime, although many may consider it to be, as crimes can take place in any sector, sport included.

The 2014 policy reads that any player failing to be on the field by the time the national anthem began may result in disciplinary action from the league office, quote unquote. The version currently being broadcast by the NFL and its flunkies read that this behaviour could result in discipline such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choices…including first offenses, quote unquote.

That is quite a change. The revised version adds a lot of punishment, and the language that indicates that this castigation would come from the league office, as is indicated in the first version of the plic, has been changed as well. It is not clear when this change was made, but the revised version appeared online two weeks ago. Questions directed to NFL spokespeople have gone unanswered.