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NFL's Casey plans to take fine, make sideline anthem protest

Defensive end Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans on the bench during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona (AFP Photo/Christian Petersen)

New York (AFP) - Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey says he will continue to protest social injustice on the NFL sidelines during US national anthems next season, telling CNN he will "take my fine."

The 28-year-old American, who has played all seven of his NFL seasons with the Titans, told CNN at an NFL promotional event in London he will continue what he did last season, raising a fist during the pre-game playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"I ain't going to let them stop me from doing what I want to do," Casey said. "If they want to have these battles between players and organizations, this is the way it's going to be."

This season, any protests come in the wake of a new league-imposed rule against sideline protests.

In May, NFL owners instituted a new anthem policy requiring all players and league personnel on the sidelines to stand for the anthem, with anyone not wishing to stand having the option to stay in the locker room.

The change gives each club the ability to set a policy to ensure on-field respect of the anthem and if a player protests on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team. Teams would have the power to fine players under the new policy.

"I'm going to take a fine this year. Why not?" Casey said. "I'm going to protest during the flag. That's what I'm going to say now."

Casey said he was prepared for criticism for his stance, especially in the wake of US President Donald Trump criticizing players who took part in kneeling protests during the anthem the past two seasons, saying team owners should fire protesters.

"I don't pay no mind to it," he said. "I'm going to do what I do that's going to bring light to my community... I will continue to use my platform to keep on speaking up."

The protest began by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest social injustice and racial inequality in response to police shootings of unarmed African-Americans. Trump has said the move insults the flag, the nation and soldiers.

"It's not necessarily about the anthem. That's where everybody's messing up," Casey said. "The way the justice system treats minorities is the issue that we have."

NFL owners approved the new rule in May to try and end the uproar but the NFL Players Association has filed a grievance against the move and talks are expected ahead of next month's pre-season openers.

- 'Guys not happy' -

"Around the NFL, guys are definitely not happy about it," Casey said about the NFL's new policy. "I feel it's not right. I don't think it was a good decision for the NFL to come up with that ruling. But they have their reasons for what they have done."

The union contends the kneeling protest does not constitute "conduct detrimental" to the NFL, allowing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to impose the policy, which the union says is "inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights."

The Titans had no comment on Casey's comments, according to a posting on the NFL website.

The Titans begin pre-season workouts on July 26 ahead of their first pre-season game on August 9 at Green Bay.

Tennessee opens the season on September 9 at Miami and will face the Los Angeles Chargers on October 21 at Wembley Stadium.