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Fans react to new NFL policy requiring players to stand for national anthem

Football season isn't starting for a few months, but the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell made headlines Wednesday over an announcement about the National Anthem.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (WJAC) -- Football season isn't starting for a few months, but the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell made headlines Wednesday over an announcement about the National Anthem.

NFL team owners unanimously decided that all players and staff who are on the field must stand for the national anthem before games.

The controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem is in the spotlight once again, being discussed on TV and in local restaurants.

"These guys are supposed to be role models for kids and everybody else and what kind of message does it send if they're kneeling or -- to me, that's disrespecting the flag," said Terry Daniels.

The practice of taking a knee in silent protest was spearheaded by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He was protesting systemic oppression of people of color.

"One thing I learned, we live in a country where you have the freedom to protest if you feel something is wrong, as long as it doesn't fringe upon the rights of others," Dennis Yeager said.

Yeager is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy in the '60's.

“I think we're in real trouble if we stop people from protesting, just because we don't like what they're protesting about," Yeager said.

Wednesday, the NFL announced players and staff on the field must stand for the national anthem.

But the new policy also allows players to stay in the locker room during the anthem if they don't want to stand.

"We want people to be respectful to the national anthem,” Goodell said. “We want people to stand. That's all personnel, and make sure that they treat this moment in a respectful fashion."

The league will now fine teams whose players and personnel do not stand and show respect for the flag.

"I don't think it's right for people to have to go into the locker room during the national anthem,” Sarah Shaw said. “I think it's more of like a respect thing that everyone should stand together, and as far as like the whole getting fined thing, I just think it's a little bit much."

At the Boulevard Grill in Johnstown, there was mixed reaction from fans.

"It's still, they're playing the national anthem when they're doing this. To me, it's irreverent. It really is," Daniels said.

Yeager sees it differently.

"I’m sure these pro football players, like a lot of other people, love this country just like I do and everybody else does,” Yeager said. “But they, again, they have a right to protest if they think something is wrong."

Either way, one thing is clear.

"The NFL is big business. I'm sure they lost a lot of viewership," Daniels said.

"There's enough people that are upset about this that (Goodell) probably feels he needs to react, to do something," Yeager said.

The NFL players association responded Wednesday saying the move contradicts statements made by NFL officials about the "principles, values and patriotism" of the league.

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