Report: NFL owners did not formally vote on anthem rule

After the NFL announced its new policy, reports began circulating that at least one owner didn't vote -- and a formal vote may not have even happened.

New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson said he won’t levy any fines or punishment against players who eschew the stay-in-the-locker-room part of the policy and kneel or visibly protest during the anthem, and will pay any fine the team gets for such an action.

Then it came out that San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York abstained from voting.

And on Thursday, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham said on Twitter and “Outside the Lines” that there wasn’t a vote at all, not in the formal sense.

“Sources in the room told me there was no official vote for the anthem resolution,” Wickersham tweeted. “League execs polled owners and knew how they’d vote but didn’t hold an official vote, atypical for such a major resolution.”

Related: Players who have retired this offseason: 

NFL players who retired over the 2018 offseason
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NFL players who retired over the 2018 offseason

Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

James Harrison, LB, New England Patriots

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Richie Incognito, G, Buffalo Bills

(Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gabe Ikard, C, Saints

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Emmett Cleary, T, Lions

(Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Rodney Adams, WR, Indianapolis Colts

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Joe Berger, G, Minnesota Vikings

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore Ravens

(Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland Browns

(Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Paul Posluszny, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars

(Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

Zach Strief, T, New Orleans Saints

(Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Antonio Cromartie, CB, Indianapolis Colts

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Donnie Jones, P, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

David Harris, LB, New England Patriots

(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis Colts

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


In a subsequent post, Wickersham wrote that one of the most eloquent speakers on the social-justice issues aspect was Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis, and that Davis, like York, also abstained from voting.

Last year, Davis admitted in an interview with ESPN reporter Paul Gutierrez that while he initially didn’t want Raiders players to protest, the national climate around such issues led him to change his mind.

But if there was no formal vote, what did Davis and York abstain from? And why did commissioner Roger Goodell say there was a “unanimous” vote?

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