NY Jets Co-Owner Offers To Pay Any Fines His Players Receive for Kneeling During the National Anthem

Christopher Johnson has previously said forcing players to "players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea."

Christopher Johnson, the co-owner of the New York Jets, on Wednesday said he will pay any fines that may arise from his players refusing to follow National Football League guidelines requiring teams to stand during the national anthem.

"I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said, according to Newsday. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions 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,” he continued. “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."

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on Wednesday introducing the league’s new policy, which requires “all team and league personnel on the field” to “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,” Goodell warned.

The move is viewed by critics as a massive concession to Donald Trump, who’s made frequent attacks on NFL players who choose to knee during the national anthem.

Johnson previously scoffed at suggestions the league should try and stymie players' free speech.

"I can't speak to how other people run their teams, but I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea," he said in March.

 

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Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.