Christopher Johnson Refuses to Enforce Fines to Jets Players Who Kneel


The NFL has approved a revision in their policy that requires all players on the field to stand during the national anthem or be fined. However, Jets Chairman Christopher Johnson stated, on May 23, 2018 that his players are free to take a knee or perform any act of protest without any fear of repercussions from the team.

NFL league owners voted unanimously to create a policy that allows players to remain in the locker room in protest of the national anthem. If players kneel during the national anthem, the team will face a league-issues fine and clubs can choose to levy additional fines.

Johnson stated, “I do not like imposing any club-specific rules. I somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that find will be borne by the organization, by my, not the players. I never want to put restriction on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

The Jets chairman has been critical of the idea team owners would require players to stand. During the owners meetings in March, Johnson told reporters he did not believe a change in protocol was necessary. He believes that forcibly trying to get the players to shut up is a “fantastically bad idea.”

None of the members of the Jets team took a knee last season. Instead, the coaches, players, and Johnson locked arm while the national anthem played.

Johnson has also worked with several players to promote social justice and criminal reform issues. He wants to continue that work and will be speaking with players and coaches to make sure the new policy does not interfere with that mission.

Johnson said he is struggling with the new policy. People know his position on the national anthem, however, he says the plan devised in the meeting was much less onerous than the plan he was presented with last week. In the end, he said, he had to support the plan from a membership point-of-view.

The fact that Johnson will pay Jets fines out of his own pocket and he will not sanction players who choose to protest during the national anthem made it more palatable that he join the other owners in approving the anthem policy.

Even without the fines, it will be a struggle for the players. Johnson wants the opportunity to talk with the coaches and other players to gain feedback on the new policy and build on the good work and momentum for the issues of social justice and legislation. Johnson does not believe the new policy will interfere with the work he is doing.

By Jeanette Smith


Newsday: Jets chairman Christopher Johnson backs players’ right to protest

Image Courtesy of Marianne O’Leary’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Christopher Johnson Refuses to Enforce Fines to Jets Players Who Kneel added by Jeanette Smith on May 24, 2018
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