POMONA, N.Y. - Olivier Vernon, the lone Giants player to kneel for the national anthem all of last season, said he will abide by the new NFL rules and won't kneel this season.
But he's not happy about the league's decision to step in and force the protests to stop.
"I mean, you never want to be told what to do, really, especially when it comes to your freedom of speech," Vernon said on Saturday night. "But it is what it is."
The new rules for the national anthem require all players and team personnel on the field to stand when the anthem is played, but players do have the option of remaining in the locker room. If any players do kneel during the anthem -- or don't show what the league deems to be proper respect -- teams will be fined and players may be fined too.
Vernon, who was attending the Landon Collins Celebrity Softball Game at Palisades Credit Union Park for an event to support the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, said he has not decided whether he'll stay in the locker room for the anthem in part because he hasn't had any in-depth conversations yet about the rule with his teammates or coaches.
But kneeling is definitely out.
"I mean, I ain't trying to get fined," he said. "So no."
Vernon, the son of a retired police officer, joined the kneeling/protesting players last season in Week 3 after President Trump first railed against the kneeling NFL players. He was initially joined by teammates Landon Collins and Damon Harrison, but those two eventually stood and Vernon kneeled alone for most of the season.
Vernon said last September that it "struck a chord" when the president referred to the kneeling players as "a son of a bitch" and suggested they be kicked out of the league.
"It's crazy," Vernon said back then. "It's an emotional thing that gets you really, really angry regardless of what type of person you are. Just because you've got money or you're playing a high-level sport, you're supposed to be OK with what's going on? I don't understand how that's right."