NFL owners reviewed the kneeling rule in an emergency meeting following renewed controversy on Veteran’s Day weekend. “Thought players would stop disrespectful protests during weekend honoring our GREAT service men and women,” President Trump tweeted late Monday. “12 teams with disgraceful players. Kneeling is not acceptable!”
The accusatory tweets initially elicited confusion, as all but two players paused their weekly demonstrations. Instead, actual gameplay apparently prompted Trump’s condemnation: quarterbacks may snap the ball and take a knee to run time off the clock. In the past week’s games, twelve teams ran one or more quarterback “kneel” plays.
Despite the play’s legality, owners nevertheless unanimously approved a rule change. Instead of kneeling with the football, quarterbacks must stand at attention and salute before referees call the play dead.
The change, already nicknamed the “Kap Rule,” is effective immediately. Owners believe the quick action will avert renewed controversy over players’ actions. They are also confident the gesture will bring back viewers who perceived the demonstrations—kneeling during the brief pregame period devoted to the national anthem to highlight systematically oppressed individuals—as outrageously disrespectful. The silent expressions of solidarity had prompted real concerns about maintaining the fan base, which has successfully weathered rule-breaking, dog-fighting, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and murder scandals.