Although the owners voted unanimously Tuesday on a new national anthem policy, not all of them are in lockstep on how the policy will be enforced.
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson told Newsday's Bob Glauber that he intends to pay all of his players' anthem-related fines.
"I do not like imposing any club-specific rules," Johnson told Glauber. "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. 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."
Johnson, who said at the March owners meetings that he didn't think a change to the policy was needed, continued: "I seriously struggled with this,” he said of Wednesday's vote to make protesting players remain in the locker room or subject their teams to fines.
“You know my position on the anthem, and you have to understand that the plan we ended up with, due to some serious work in the [meeting] room, was vastly less onerous than the one that was presented to me late last week. In the end, I felt I had to support it from a membership standpoint."
Johnson isn't the only owner who actually might understand everything that's wrong about the NFL's new policy.
49ers CEO Jed York, who, coincidentally or not, previously employed Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid — the two unemployed players suing the NFL for alleged collusion — told NFL media's Steve Wyche that he abstained from voting because he wanted to get more feedback from the players. They, of course, were largely left out of today's decision, though the NFL touted "its strong committment in working alonside its players" in reaching the new policy.
The NFL can say it worked alongside the players, but the fact of the matter is that, even among the contingent of owners who helped create the rule, there is division. And that won't help the NFL's intended goal — getting the focus back on the game and off of the protests.