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Cardinals' Antoine Bethea: New national anthem policy 'kind of overboard'

Posted at 5:43 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 01:35:53-04

Arizona Cardinals veteran safety Antoine Bethea isn't a proponent of the NFL's new policy that requires players to stand or face fines during the playing of the national anthem before games.

The NFL's new policy requires all team and league personnel on the field to "stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem" and teams will face fines "if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem." Each NFL team will also be allowed to "develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect" during the anthem.

''I really do think fining players for really expressing what they believe, I think that's kind of overboard," Bethea said Wednesday. "I just don’t like the fact that you’re going to fine guys for really expressing what they believe in. But, you know, players really don’t get too much say so in matters like this.

''Either it's going to be a team thing and everybody stays in the locker room or everybody goes out and stands ... It's a club policy, so if the club supports the guys to do as they wish, then that's fine, too. If the club decides everybody stays in the locker room, that's a decision every team has to make.''

Also on Wednesday, Bethea retweeted a tweet from ESPN's Jemele Hill: "In case you forgot, the reason the NFL, patriotism and the military are so closely aligned is because the NFL is paid millions by the Dept of Defense," she tweeted.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines in 2016 when he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before a preseason game, doing so in protest of police mistreatment toward racial minorities in America. Some of Kaepernick's teammates, as well as players on other NFL teams, eventually joined in on that protest by kneeling, sitting or raising fists during the anthem.

The protests increased in number last season when President Trump suggested in late September that players who refuse to stand during the national anthem should be "fired." Over 200 NFL players chose to sit or kneel during the anthem during NFL games played the following weekend.

No Cardinals players chose to sit or kneel last season, though the team did lock arms during the national anthem before a Monday Night Football game vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Glendale on Sept. 25, just days after Trump's comments.

Bethea said head coach Steve Wilks addressed the team about the new national anthem policy after practice Wednesday, and he advised his team to carefully consider how they'll address it in the media. "You just don't want to say nothing crazy, say something stupid," Bethea said.