ATLANTA — The goal, in Kim Pegula’s view, was to try to find a compromise.
The Buffalo Bills’ co-owner believes the NFL achieved as much with the new policy put in place Wednesday concerning players protesting social justice issues.
Club owners unanimously voted at the league’s spring meeting to allow players to remain in the locker room before the game if they choose to protest, but those who are on the field for the national anthem must stand or their team will face a fine.
“One of the things that we wanted was a consensus from the ownership group on a policy going forward,” Pegula told The Buffalo News. “But we know that there’s no exact right answer to this. This is a very delicate situation, a very personal situation to many people. So coming out with a policy that allows and gives the freedom and the choice to our players to sit in the locker room but still recognizes the importance that Terry and I feel, as well as the league, that standing for the anthem and showing the respect of the flag is embodied in the kind of character that we want as a league and as a team. So I think it was a great compromise to get that done.
“And I know from our situation, we will not stop doing some of the programs that we put in place last year after talking to our players. I always talk about how we have a better sense of communication. I addressed the whole team last year about the situation. We’ve had internal talks among our staff and our teams and we’ve put in place a lot of programs. And that’s not going to away."
Pegula also pointed out that the NFL has a matching fund grant up to $500,000 per team to address issues the club and its players wish to highlight.
“All these things I think are good ways to show not only our fans and our players that there’s issues we understand, that there’s issues out there and we want to make sure that we’re understanding of them and allowing them the freedom to be people as well as players for us," Pegula said. "I thought it was a great compromise and will allow the players to have that choice.”
In a statement issued by the team, Pegula said: “We are proud of the work the league and our players have done over the course of the year to help strengthen our communities, raise awareness on issues of social injustice, and help find solutions. The policy instituted today will have no effect on that whatsoever. Our communication has been strong with the leaders of our team and that will continue. I plan on meeting with Coach McDermott, Brandon and players in the near future to reiterate that.”