The Los Angeles Rams will take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, 2019. As the game approaches, you may be wondering if there's a Super Bowl 2019 kneeling policy in place after last year's announcement that the NFL would be barring players from kneeling on the field. Notably, the enforcement of this policy was suspended last July after the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) filed a grievance — and there is currently no new anthem-related policy in place.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported back in July 2018, the NFL created a new rule in May of that year requiring players to either stand for the national anthem or remain in the locker room while the anthem is performed. Following this announcement, the NFLPA filed a grievance against the NFL, suggesting that the rule infringes on players' rights, the AJC reported. Amidst ongoing discussions with the NFLPA, the NFL decided to suspend enforcement of the policy in July 2018, saying in a statement (via AJC):
In order to allow this constructive dialogue [between the NFL and NFLPA] to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA's grievance and on the NFL's anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.
Presently, the anthem policy remains suspended and therefore not intact for the 2019 Super Bowl. Generally, though, the controversy surrounding the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick and all kneeling players is still a strong undercurrent in the upcoming championship game. Kaepernick spearheaded the protest movement beginning in September 2016 and has not been hired by the NFL since he became a free agent in 2017, Time reported.
As The Guardian described, this controversy is most apparent in discussions around the Super Bowl's halftime show, a performance that is typically coveted by artists. The NFL officially announced on Jan. 13 that Maroon 5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott will be performing at the event. However, Billboard reported months prior, in October 2018, that multiple artists turned down the show because of the NFL's approach to kneeling players, including Kaepernick.
Those who are performing at the 2019 Super Bowl have received some significant pushback for their decision. Scott, for one, has acknowledged the controversy and noted that he only agreed to perform if the NFL partnered with him to donate $500,000 to a social justice organization called Dream Corps, Billboard noted. The outlet also reported that Scott said he supports those who stand up for their beliefs. As Scott noted in a Jan. 13 statement via Billboard:
I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in. I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation. I am proud to support Dream Corps and the work they do that will hopefully inspire and promote change.
Presently, over 111,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking Maroon 5 to pull out of its performance. The petition takes the position that no one should support the NFL "until the league changes their policy and support players’ constitutional right to protest.” In December, Variety asked Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine about the halftime show gig. He responded by saying, “I’m still formulating a lot of things.”
Overall, while there is not a 2019 Super Bowl anthem policy in place, the issue is nonetheless very much a part of the championship game. It remains to be seen if and how the NFL and performers will address it as Super Bowl LIII approaches.