FOXBORO -- The NFL Players Association filed a grievance Tuesday challenging the league's national anthem policy.

In a statement, the NFLPA called the policy "inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement," noting that it "infringes on player rights." The league and the Players Association have agreed to engage in discussions regarding the issue, according to the union.

The policy, which was approved by owners in late May, stipulates that all personnel on the field must "stand and show respect for the flag." Players can remain in the locker room for the anthem if they do not intend to stand. Teams will be subject to fines from the league if its players choose to sit or kneel during the anthem. Additionally, teams can fine personnel, including players, for violating the policy.

The new rule has been widely criticized by players across the league, including those in New England. In May, Patriots safety Devin McCourty summed up his thoughts with three words: "This is dumb."

"I just don't think that was the right way, to try to lay the hammer down," McCourty said following an OTA session. "The NFL is a group where you have owners and players, but it can work together. We'll see how that works out, plays itself out."

McCourty suggested an alternate solution: All players remain in the locker room for the anthem.

"It was like that before I got to the NFL (in 2009)," McCourty said.


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"As captains we came out toward the end to be ready for the coin toss, but we never saw the national anthem."

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, also ripped the league for instituting the policy.

"This is fear of a diminished bottom line," Long wrote on his Twitter account in May. "It's also fear of a president turning his base against a corporation. This is not patriotism. Don't get it confused. These owners don't love America more than the players demonstrating and taking real action to improve it. It also lets you, the fan, know where our league stands."

The national anthem became a hot-button issue this past September when President Donald Trump blasted players who chose to kneel as a way to protest racial and social injustices in America.

At the time, the league's game operations manual recommended that players "should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking." There was no rule in place mandating that all players stand.

Hundreds of NFL players opted to kneel for the anthem in the weekend following Trump's comments. Seventeen Patriots took a knee prior to their Week 3 game against the Texans. For the remainder of the season, however, all Patriots stood for the anthem, linking arms with each other in the moments before each game.