Of course, if you ask sportscasters, misinformed members of the public, misinformed fans, and those football players who had never heard about free speech until a year or so ago, you hear the same opinion incorrectly spouted by late night television hosts.
When Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers prior to the 2017 season and didn’t land on another NFL team, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and other media spent months accusing NFL owners of blackballing the quarterback for taking a stand on social justice (and largely ignoring facts that didn’t support the narrative). The real reason he has not been signed is because he is not good enough to offset the distraction he would bring
This prompted more "protests," which precipitated Trump to weigh in on the topic—which incited an even greater media frenzy and accusations that the president was exploiting the issue for personal gain.
Whether or not one approves of NFL players taking a knee or sitting during the National Anthem, there is one thing everyone agrees on: they have the right to do so, so say the misinformed.
“Free speech, which is enshrined right there in the 1st Amendment, is not something that you only get at certain times,” said CNN’s editor-at-large Chris Cillizza. “You get it all the time. It’s literally a founding principle of this nation.”
Numerous NFL players and supporters voiced similar sentiments, including reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady..
“It’s part of our democracy,” said the Patriots quarterback. “As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about.”
There’s just one problem. The 1st Amendment doesn’t work that way. Anyone who’s ever bothered to read the U.S. Constitution knows that the 1st Amendment begins with, “Congress shall make no law ….”
Famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz said that NFL players do not have a constitutional right to refuse to stand during the national anthem.
"The players are entitled to kneel if the owners allow them to," Dershowitz stated. "Now the owners could say 'no' because the players don't have a First Amendment right in relation to the owners. They only have a First Amendment right in relation to the government."
Although he disagreed with their demonstrations, Dershowitz said the First Amendment was "working well" in the context of the NFL because "both sides are being heard."
But he added the same could not be said for free speech on college campuses around the country.
"Most college students are just a bunch of selfish spoiled brats when it comes to this issue: ‘Free speech for me but not for thee,'" Dershowitz said, citing his experience of being "shouted down" whenever he spoke on behalf of Israel despite supporting the two-state solution.
"They are the first ones who want free speech for themselves, but they don't want free speech for anyone they disagree with. That's not the way it works," he continued. "The Constitution doesn't distinguish between good speech and bad speech."
This is what legal scholar Teresa Stanton Collett had to say on the subject:
“I don’t watch football. I don’t care about football. But I do care about constitutional literacy. Please stop saying football players have first amendment rights to disregard the direction of their private employers while engaged in privately sponsored activities — which is what NFL football games are,” said Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. “They have no more constitutional protection for their expressive activities than I do for mine at my private Catholic university. Any ‘rights’ they have are based on their contracts and employment law.”
The real problem than lies with the league and the owners who have just said they will not enforce their own rules.
It’s also worth pointing out what the NFL’s game operations manual says on the subject:
“The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.
During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”
All the more reason every Freedom Loving American should never buy another ticket to an NFL game, watch the NFL on television, or purchase any type of NFL merchandise. Freedom and respect for that freedom is much more important than watching thugs, women abusers, rapists, wife beaters, child abusers, druggies, and murderers play football.