The NFL is not expected to implement a new policy on the national anthem this season, league sources told ESPN, no matter how many meetings and conversations occur regarding the topic.
The new policy is going to be no policy -- at least for this season, according to sources.
Too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise, but an NFL official insisted Sunday morning that there is continuing dialogue on the topic as the league looks for ways to address social justice issues.
Players began sitting or kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality, police brutality and other issues. The protests have become a divisive topic of debate, and the NFL and players' union still haven't said whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem.
President Donald Trump has been a regular critic of NFL players demonstrating during the national anthem since the 2016 campaign. On Sunday, Trump said NFL ratings could decline further if players do not stand for the anthem and if television networks do not broadcast the pregame ceremony.
Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
NBC ratings for the Atlanta Falcons-Philadelphia Eagles season opener Thursday were down 13 percent, but the kickoff was delayed by more than 30 minutes due to rain, pushing the broadcast later into the evening. NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent overall for the 2017 regular season, though Nielsen data shows that the 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows on television in 2017 were football games.
The NFL passed a new anthem policy in May, but those rules were put on hold to allow the league and union to further discuss the issue. Of the 2,880 players who were on the sidelines for preseason games this year, only two players took a knee and one sat during the anthem.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.