New York — The New York Jets chairman/CEO Christopher Johnson said on Wednesday that he backs his players' right to protest and will grab the tab if they're fined.
The support from the sports executive comes on the heels of the NFL declaring a new policy on Wednesday regarding players who kneel during the National Anthem. The policy states that if a players protests, the league can fine a team rather than a player. Each NFL team owner will be responsible for deciding on a disciplinary action for any player taking a knee.
Johnson told Newsday he would pay for any fines given to his players for protesting.
“If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest," Johnson told Newsday. "If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear."
"As I have in the past, I will support our players wherever we land as a team. Our focus is not on imposing any Club rules, fines or restrictions...I remain extremely proud of how we demonstrated unity last season as well as our players' commitment to strengthening our communities," Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday.
The new policy requires all team and league personnel on the field to "stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem." Anyone who decides not to stand, may stay in the locker room or remain off the field.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claims the decision “will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it.”
Following the announcement of the NFL's new strategy, many expressed their opinions on social media with the topic almost instantly became a top trend on Twitter.
"YES!!!! This Military Momma is thrilled!!!!" a woman said online in support of the league's new policy.
Twitter user Jason Schreier tweeted in response to Johnson's statement and said, "I never thought I'd ever say this in my life, but today I'm proud to be a Jets fan."