July 21, 2018 / 4:39 AM / 10 months ago

NFL notebook: Trump criticizes NFL's anthem policy in tweet

A day after the NFL’s national anthem protest controversy resurfaced in the news, Trump tweeted on the subject, criticizing the league’s revised policy, calling out commissioner Roger Goodell and suggesting potential punishments for those who kneel.

NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players take the knee before the start of the national anthem Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again - can’t believe it!” Trump tweeted. “Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

The NFL and its owners passed a new policy — a policy that Trump praised as “doing the right thing” — in May that calls for fines against teams whose players show any mode of disrespect during the anthem, while asking players who will not stand to remain in the locker room.

The subject of the anthem and the new policy returned to headlines Thursday, when multiple media reports revealed the Miami Dolphins have classified it as conduct detrimental, which could allow for fines or suspensions of players who violate the policy. The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement Thursday night saying the sides are working on a mutual resolution to the anthem issue, and all new rules will be put on hold while a resolution is sought.

—Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the Dolphins haven’t decided if or how to punish violators of the national anthem policy.

“We were asked to submit a form to the NFL on our overall discipline policy prior to the start of the rookie report date,” Ross said, in a statement released by the team. “The one line sentence related to the national anthem was a placeholder as we haven’t made a decision on what we would do, if anything, at that point. I’m pleased that the NFL and NFLPA are taking a pause to figure out a resolution on this issue.

“I am passionate about social justice, and through the Miami Dolphins and the creation of RISE, will continue to use the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress.”

—Andrew Luck avoided the physically unable to perform list to begin training camp with the Indianapolis Colts after missing the entire 2017 season.

Luck, whose recovery stalled multiple times following January 2017 shoulder surgery, sat out the preseason and regular season last year but has slowly progressed since. He’s less than two months into a throwing program, but general manager Chris Ballard said Luck is following the prescribed routine to be ready for Week 1 of the 2018 regular season.

“I had pain last year,” Luck told reporters this summer. “Pain, and I wasn’t being honest with myself about it. ... There’s not that right now. ...It’s gone. That pain is gone, and it’s going to stay that way.”

—Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will not sue the NFL over a four-game suspension.

According to NFL Network, New England’s top wide receiver is accepting the ban following the denial of his appeal and has no plan to sue over the suspension. Edelman, 32, will be eligible to return Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts. He can practice beginning Oct. 1, three days before the Thursday game against the Colts.

Various reports indicated Edelman’s positive test was for a substance that was not immediately recognizable. Edelman’s suspension will keep him out of games at home against the Houston Texans, on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, and at home against the Miami Dolphins. He will forfeit approximately $471,000 of his $2 million base salary this year.

—Jacksonville Jaguars pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. will miss Week 1 of the regular season to serve a one-game suspension handed down by the NFL, the team announced.

Fowler, who turns 24 in August, was suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, presumably for his role in a parking lot altercation in July of 2017. In March, Fowler pleaded no contest to a battery charge related to the incident, and was sentenced to a year of probation, 75 hours of community service and a $925 fine.

Earlier this offseason, the Jaguars declined Fowler’s fifth-year option, which would have cost $14.2 million in 2019 if picked up. However, the team still believes Fowler is “an ascending player” and hopes to reach a long-term deal before he hits free agency next March, according to NFL Network.

—Future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens is now a Canadian Football League free agent after being released from the Edmonton Eskimos’ negotiation list.

According to multiple reports, Owens last weekend invoked the 10-day clause for the Eskimos, who held his negotiating rights, to offer him a contract or release him. Owens’ agent, Jason Staroszik, said the Eskimos’ decision won’t discourage the 44-year-old wideout’s plan to play again.

“It’s definitely not over,” Staroszik said of Owens, who last played in the NFL in 2010 and will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 4. “Terrell could still sign as a free agent with any team that’s interested. We might see another team put him on their negotiation list. Hopefully there’s another team with an interest. I feel there is, so we’ll see what happens.”

—New York Jets wide receiver ArDarius Stewart is facing a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy, NFL Network reported.

Stewart, who is entering his second season, tested positive for a diuretic or masking agent, according to the report. The NFL hasn’t announced a suspension for Stewart and declined comment when reached by the NFL Network.

Stewart caught just six passes for 82 yards in 15 games as a rookie. He also averaged 19.2 yards on nine kickoff returns. The 24-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Alabama.

—Field Level Media

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