Flacco considered this after the second day of his team’s training camp at Under Armour Performance Center.
“I wish I could answer this question honestly and say I haven’t heard anything about it,” he said. “I hadn’t until a couple minutes ago, but I think it’s good that both sides are talking, and we’ll figure something out.”
Every player who spoke publicly with the media, and Coach John Harbaugh, provided nearly identical reactions to the news — saying it’s good that the two sides are talking and they would wait to see what happens.
The NFL wanted to end the discord surrounding protests during the national anthem, a hotly contested issue all last season, particularly after the controversy was stoked by President Trump with remarks at a rally in Alabama. But it appears this move has ensured the discussion will continue into the new season.
Flacco handled the question about the national anthem policy differently than his teammates, but it spoke to a seeming general fatigue among the team about dealing with this issue. At the beginning of Eric Weddle’s news conference, the safety was told there was a development in the NFL’s national anthem policy, and his eyes widened, mouth splitting into a mischievous grin.
“Was there?!” he exclaimed in mock surprise. “What happened?!”
He later continued: “Everyone puts your selfish desires aside and puts the team first. … We’ve had discussions in meetings [about how to handle this situation], but that’s between the organization and us. When our owner wants to say something, he’ll say something, but that’s between us and what we decide as Ravens.”
Harbaugh seemed unaware that the NFL had suspended its policy and called the dialogue between the NFL and the NFLPA “positive” while maintaining his perspective on the matter right now.
“We have football practice,” he said. “I haven’t thought too much about it.”
Whether the NFL ultimately implements its new policy, which leaves it up to each team whether a player would be disciplined for a protest during the anthem and was ratified by the league’s owners in May, players seem willing to follow their front-office’s lead. Marlon Humphrey, a second-year cornerback out of Alabama, declined to say how he’d want management to handle any situation. When asked whether he’s considered kneeling, Humphrey said, “The only thing I’m thinking about is training camp and working with my teammates to hopefully have a successful season.”
Fourth-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who was one of several Ravens who knelt during the national anthem last September before Baltimore’s game in London, said he hasn’t thought about whether he’ll kneel or remain in the locker room for the anthem this season.
“[Thinking about kneeling] is not important right now,” he said. “What’s important right now is come out here, focus on training camp.”
Smith did acknowledge that he thinks it’s important to address the policy at some point and hopes that Harbaugh will ask the team what they want to do soon. He emphasized the team needs to handle it together and that, if the policy was enacted, the team would be “good either way” if the Ravens decided to enforce it or not. For now, though, no one wants to think about it.
“Football is football, man,” he said. “I can’t focus on [the national anthem] too much, man, and my job is to come out here in training camp and work.”