NFL owners approved a policy on Wednesday for player conduct during the national anthem. Players, coaches and personnel on the field must stand when the anthem is played or they will be fined and disciplined.
The decision could tee up players and owners for litigation. Players maintain they were not consulted and immediately threatened to challenge the policy. The NFLPA said it “will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners unanimously approved the anthem policy, but at least one owner, Jed York of the San Francisco 49ers, abstained. York said he felt the need to seek additional player input. Meanwhile, New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said his team’s players are free to protest without fear of NFL or team fines and that he will cover the cost if his players are fined.
—San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster had his two felony domestic violence charges against him dismissed by a judge.
Santa Clara (Calif.) County Judge Nona L. Klippen made the decision, citing insufficient evidence to believe the domestic violence charges rose to the level of probable cause after listening to the testimony of Foster’s ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis. Ennis testified last Thursday that she initially lied to police about Foster hitting her on Feb. 11 and did so in an attempt to ruin Foster’s career and “end him.”
Foster also had the gun charge against him reduced to a misdemeanor, and the pretrial for that case is scheduled for June 6. Foster has not participated in the 49ers’ offseason program since he was charged in mid-April. He is scheduled to appear in court for his marijuana possession arrest in January on June 20, according to a report from NFL Network, and remains subject to discipline by the NFL under the league’s personal-conduct policy.
—Former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito is being held for mental evaluation in South Florida after an altercation at a Boca Raton gym, according to local police.
The alleged altercation, in which Incognito was said to have thrown a tennis ball and then a dumb bell at a fellow gym patron, was first reported by TMZ. Incognito was also said to be ranting about the government and yelled at the man to “get off my (expletive) playground.”
Incognito was released from the reserve/retired list by Buffalo on Monday. He suddenly retired last month, citing health concerns from his personal physician, but multiple reports indicated his contract played a major role.
—New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters that quarterback Tom Brady has told him he will be on hand when the team holds its mandatory minicamp from June 5-7.
“I think he’s very excited about the upcoming season,” Kraft said at the owners meeting in Atlanta, per ESPN. “These are voluntary workouts, and I think he’s in great shape. I think he’s at an age where — I was thinking back to when he joined us — he’s blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it’s very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football.”
Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski have not participated in voluntary workouts this week, although both are expected to attend the mandatory session in June.
—The NFL named Arizona and New Orleans as hosts for future Super Bowls.
With the sites through 2022 already in place, the league picked University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., as the site for Super Bowl LVII in 2023. Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will host the following year, the eighth time it will be held there, a single-venue record.
The owners also awarded the 2019 NFL Draft hosting duties to Nashville.
—Right guard Zack Martin is not taking part in the Dallas Cowboys’ voluntary OTAs for the second straight day as he looks to work out a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Martin is in the final year of his five-year rookie deal and was first-team All-Pro in 2014 and 2016. He is due to make $9.4 million this season.
Martin, the 16th overall pick out of Notre Dame in 2014, has started every game since joining the team, making the Pro Bowl every season. Martin has been working out with teammates in the offseason and spent Tuesday working with strength and conditioning coaches.
—The Pittsburgh Steelers reached agreement on a deal with quarterback Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round draft pick, according to multiple reports.
That leaves the Steelers with only first-round pick Terrell Edmunds unsigned.
News of the four-year deal for Rudolph comes on the heels of a warming in the relationship between the rookie and longtime Steelers star QB Ben Roethlisberger, who promised to help mentor Rudolph after practice on Tuesday.
—Nick Foles could make up to $14 million in incentives in his reworked deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.
Most of that money, however, are dependent on quarterback Carson Wentz being sidelined either to start the season or during it.
The restructured deal, which includes a mutual option, had been characterized as a raise for the Super Bowl MVP, but without incentives is actually $1 million less than he was slated to make in 2018. According to the reported details, Foles received a $2 million signing bonus and has a base salary of $4 million.
—Field Level Media