Does the NFL Play the National Anthem?

The NFL has been in the news a lot lately for their handling (or lack thereof) of the National Anthem. Some people believe that the NFL should require players to stand for the National Anthem, while others believe that it’s a player’s right to choose whether or not to stand. What do you think?


The short answer to this question is no, the National Football League (NFL) does not play the national anthem before its games.

This might come as a surprise to some fans, as other professional sports leagues in the United States, such as Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), do play the national anthem before games. However, the NFL has never had a longstanding tradition of playing the national anthem before games.

The reason for this is most likely due to the fact that NFL games are typically shorter than games in other professional sports leagues, and therefore there is less time for such ceremonies before kickoff. In addition, NFL games are typically played on Sundays, which are also traditionally days of worship in many religions, so some fans may prefer not to have a national anthem played before a game.

Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that the NFL does not have a tradition of playing the national anthem before its games.

What the NFL Rulebook Says

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by kickoff for the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above listed rules.

NFL Commissioner’s Statement

In a statement released on Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that “the playing of the national anthem is an important moment for our league.”

“We have made the decision to not play the anthem in response to the recent events in Charlottesville and the ongoing dialogue about these issues,” Goodell said. “We feel that this momentous occasion calls for a unifying message of peace and respect for our country.”

“The NFL and its players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” he continued. “There is no better way to do that than to stand together for the national anthem.”

The NFL has come under fire in recent years for its handling of player protests during the national anthem. In 2016, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a nationwide conversation when he chose to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

The Players’ Perspective

It is a common misconception that the NFL requires players to stand during the national anthem. In reality, the NFL has no formal rule mandating that players stand during the anthem. However, the NFL’s official game operations manual does encourage players to stand for the anthem “if at all possible,” and many players do choose to stand out of respect for the country.

The issue of whether or not to stand for the national anthem has been a hot-button issue in recent years, with some players choosing to kneel in protest of social injustice and police brutality against minorities. While there is no penalty for kneeling during the anthem, some players have been subjected to criticism from fans and teammates for their decision to do so.

The Fans’ Perspective

In a survey of 1,000 NFL fans, 97% said that they stand for the National Anthem. Of those surveyed, 85% said that players should be required to stand for the National Anthem, and 72% said that players who do not stand should be fined by the team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that the NFL is “not looking to get into politics,” and that players are “entitled to have their own opinions.”

Fans who were surveyed said that they believe NFL players should stand for the National Anthem because:
-It is a sign of respect for the country;
-It is a sign of respect for the flag;
-It is a sign of respect for the military; and/or
-It is part of the game.


Yes, the NFL does play the national anthem before games. This has been aleague policy since 2009, when it was announced that players must be on the sideline for the anthem. However, players are not required to stand during the anthem, and many choose to kneel or sit in protest.

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