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Steelers player says NFL's new national anthem policy is a form of 'bullying

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns called the NFL's new national anthem policy a form of "bullying." Although he's not happy about the move, Burns said he'll comply. (Image source: Video screenshot)

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns had no kind words for the NFL's new national anthem policy that calls for players to stand or the team will be fined.

What's the story?

Burns said the policy, which was announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday, is a form of "bullying."

“We are trying to stand for something, but you single us out in front of everybody? You know you talk about bullying, that’s bullying, in my opinion,” Burns told KDKA-TV after spring practices Thursday.

The policy voted on by team owners states that players must stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Those who do not want to stand for the anthem can wait in the locker room until it's over.

“This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem,” Goodell said in a statement. “Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.

The teams, whose players don't comply, will be fined by the league.

“I feel like it’s another topic to get everybody against each other,” Burns told the outlet. “I hate that we have to go down this route, but it is what it is.”

Burns said the policy will draw attention to those who wait to come out after the anthem.

“It makes you look bad,” he said. “like your whole team is out there and you come jogging out, like, ‘Oh, he’s the guy that’s protesting.' Who wants to go through that? That’s humiliating, that's humiliating to us as a person.”

Steelers guard Ramon Foster said he'll comply but not necessarily because he wants to.

"If the team says, ‘this is what we’re doing,’ and ownership [does too], you either deal with it or you’re probably going to get cut," Foster told KDKA. "You can fight the resistance on that one but, same as we can’t smoke marijuana because it’s illegal in certain states, it’s the same issue."

Although he's not happy about the move, Burns said he'll comply.

“I’m going to be out there standing up,” he said. “That’s their issue, not my issue.”

What else did Goodell say?

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said Wednesday in the statement. “This is not and was never the case.”

“We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it,” the statement concluded.

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