Three Miami Dolphins players who knelt during the national anthem before Sunday night's game told coach Adam Gase that waiting in the tunnel during the anthem was interfering with their game preparation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills took a knee during the anthem before Miami played Oakland.
Before recent games, the three waited in the tunnel after Gase established a team policy requiring players either to stand for the anthem or remain in the tunnel.
The person familiar with the discussions said Gase told them he preferred that they stand during the anthem but respected their right to express themselves and relaxed the team rule.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins didn't comment on the protests.
Earlier this week, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross joined with his players to create a fund for social justice programs.