Giants head coach Pat Shurmur has not had any formal conversations with the players regarding the new NFL policy toward the national anthem. But he will.
“We’re going to sort of let it settle for a little bit here,” Shurmur said of the policy, which was adopted at the spring owners meeting last week. “It’s like any new rule, it’s a new policy, and I certainly trust that our players are going to do the right thing. I think if we just let it settle for a minute, at some point we’ll sit and discuss it but we haven’t done it yet.”
The new policy requires players to stand and be respectful during the pregame performance of the anthem, although it also allows them to remain in the locker room if they choose to do so.
The Giants have two players on the roster who participated in protests against police injustices last year by taking a knee during the anthem: Olivier Vernon and Michael Thomas.
Vernon did so with the Giants (he was joined at first by Landon Collins and Damon Harrison but after one game became the only Giants player to protest in that fashion). Thomas did it as a member of the Dolphins. Shurmur said he did not have any discussion with Thomas about his protests when he was signed by the Giants as a free agent this offseason.
Thomas said on Tuesday that he doesn’t want to comment on the NFL’s new anthem policy. He said he doesn’t want to be “emotionally hijacked” by the sudden change in policy.
As for his own actions during the anthem, Shurmur said the decision is “very easy.”
“I’m going to face the flag, take my cap off, listen to the anthem and be thankful that my family and I live in the greatest country in the world,” he said. “Be able to kind of reflect on and be thankful for all the sacrifice that a lot of people have gone through to help protect and secure our freedom. That’s what it means to me. And at some point we’ll talk about it as a team and I trust that our team will do the right thing.”