This spring, the NFL announced a new policy for players who knelt for the anthem and disrespected the flag before games: Teams would be fined when such a demonstration took place. Players who felt they simply couldn’t bring themselves to stand and respect our nation’s anthem would be permitted to stay in the locker room for the duration of the opening ceremonies. NFL critics at the time accused Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners of a weak-kneed policy that failed to properly address the disrespect that has driven so many fans away from the game. Critics on the other side were aghast that the NFL would do anything other than burn the flag on national television in support of these brave social justice warriors on the field.

Now that the rubber is starting to meet the road, though, it seems clear that Goodell isn’t even brave enough to stand behind his first, compromised position. After Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey said he would continue to demonstrate during the anthem regardless of the punishments, and after the Miami Dolphins introduced a new, stricter policy forbidding its players from kneeling, the NFL has again taken the cowards’ way out.

In a statement this week, the league said, “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.

“The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice,” the league statement continued. “Our shared focus will remain on finding a solution to the anthem issue through mutual, good faith commitments, outside of litigation.”

There’s really no good solution to this situation other than making it a hard and fast rule: You kneel for the anthem, you incur a penalty of some sort. That’s all. That’s everything you need to prove to the fans that you actually care more about this great nation than you do about appeasing a bunch of social justice warriors on the left. Then, if the players continue to kneel…well, at least they’ll actually be making a sacrifice for their phony “cause.” And if they don’t, hey, problem solved. It’s really not that tough to figure out.

President Trump has a lot on his plate these days, but he found time to criticize the NFL for backing down.

“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it!” he tweeted. “Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

Alas, Goodell would rather cater to a bunch of leftists who don’t even watch football than to the patriotic fans who are so disgusted by this situation. Well, let the decline continue…