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Vox Sentences: The NFL bans “taking a knee”

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The NFL bans players from kneeling on the field in protest; an American government employee stationed in China mysteriously falls ill after a potential “sonic attack.”

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Tonight’s Sentences is written by Ella Nilsen.

No more kneeling on NFL fields

Roger Goodell Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
  • Today the NFL finally announced its new policy prohibiting players taking a knee during the national anthem. [SB Nation / Christian D’Andrea]
  • Specifically, the new rule keeps players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem if they are on the field. The policy allows players to stay in the team locker room or a “similar location off the field” during the anthem without being penalized. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • But should a player kneel, that player and the entire team could be subject to a fine from the NFL. [CBS Sports / Ryan Wilson]
  • A statement from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the kneeling protests created a perception among fans that teams were not patriotic. He said all team and league members/personnel “shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.” [NFL]
  • Even though some team owners have allowed players to kneel in the past, all 32 team owners agreed to the new policy. Furthermore, the policy will be difficult for sports unions that represent players to push back on — it will be written into the NFL operations manual. [ESPN / Kevin Seifert and Dan Graziano]
  • Taking a knee has been a lightning rod since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing it to protest police killings of unarmed black men in the US back in August 2016. Since then, far more players have joined him. [Fox News / Jennifer Earl]
  • It earned these players a rebuke from President Donald Trump, who has waded into the issue in his typically brash and controversial fashion. But Kaepernick recently got a boost from Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who said he thinks the quarterback should be allowed to play for the NFL and continue to protest. [Bleacher Report / Scott Polacek]
  • Leaked audio of an NFL meeting last month showed that the league and team owners are primarily concerned with how this all makes them look — the policy is clearly an effort to make the controversy disappear. [NYT / Victor Mather]
  • What remains to be seen is whether players will try to test the bounds of this policy.

Sonic attack round two?

  • Another American government official posted abroad has fallen ill after a strange sonic incident. Only this time, it happened in China instead of Cuba (the last place this happened). [NYT / Chris Buckley]
  • The American consular employee was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury. The employee later reported “sensations of sound and pressure” before falling ill. [NBC News / Mac William Bishop and Alastair Jamieson]
  • The employee was located in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was a situation similar to what happened to diplomats stationed in Havana last year. [Guardian / Lily Kuo and Julian Borger]
  • The mysterious incident in Cuba sickened more than 20 people and was initially characterized as a “sonic attack.” US and Cuban authorities are still investigating what caused the injuries. [CNN / Steven Jiang, Ben Westcott, and Maegan Vazquez]


  • We all like to think we’re socially conscious shoppers, but do we really care about wearing sustainable clothing? The evidence points to no. [Racked / Alden Wicker]
  • Atlantic cod and soft-shell clams are in major trouble, new research in Maine finds. Climate change is the culprit. [Portland Press Herald / Kevin Miller]
  • Older millennials (the ones born in the ‘80s) may never fully recover from the hit they took during the Great Recession. [CNN Money / Tami Luhby]
  • New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is a practicing Sikh and ready to take on President Donald Trump. (Trump’s beloved Bedminster estate is within his jurisdiction.) [Politico / Edward-Isaac Dovere]


“I felt guilty because I didn’t protect her. I’d always been — the whole 16 years of our marriage — her security blanket, for lack of another word, and in spite of everything I tried to do, I couldn’t save her.” [Joe Bryan, imprisoned for the murder of his wife, Mickey, to NYT Magazine / Pamela Colloff]

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