“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired!”

President Trump echoed his trademark line from his successful reality show, The Apprentice, in advice to NFL owners, but could it really happen?

In 1891, famous jurist Oli­ver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote, “An employee may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be employed.”

To keep your job, you often can’t always say what you want.

A year after quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, refused to stand for the traditional playing of the national anthem prior to a San Francisco 49er game, the national debate about the boundaries of the First Amendment right to free speech finally reached the highest office in the country.

Kaepernick said he is kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to bring attention to what he sees as racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.

Three weeks into the 2017 season, President Donald Trump exercised his own right to freedom of expression.

Of course, players, coaches, owners and the NFL itself are free to express opinions – popular or not, leading to what some might call a “robust” debate about the limits to the right and the proper forums for its exercise.

The League’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union is silent on the matter, unlike the NBA’s, which requires players to stand during the anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement calling the president’s remarks “divisive” and demonstrating an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.”

The NFL Players Association claims the protests are “protected speech” under the Constitution, a concept that is often cited, but not entirely understood by many.

The right to free speech is protected only from any government attempt to suppress it and the Supreme Court has repeatedly interpreted the words, Con­gress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” in the First Amendment as applying only to government employers and not private sector ones.

NFL players are under contract, but employed “at will”  so it is not unlikely that a team like the New York Giants, which faced a possible boycott from fans had Kaepernick been signed, could fire or trade a player for kneeling if the ownership determined that the player did not represent the team values or those of the fans.

Trump’s words, though short on presidential cache, drew applause and cheers at a campaign rally held to support his choice in a tough U.S. Senate race in Alabama.

But while some may argue that Trump’s words are less than presidential, having a hard time, perhaps, envisioning the colorful language coming out of the mouth of the articulate John F. Kennedy, religious Jimmy Carter or either of the circumspect Bush presidents, others cheered the blunt Trump who said what they themselves were thinking.

The president suggested that fans leave the stadium if such protests occur.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

Do you think individual NFL teams should demand their players stand for the national anthem or allow them to express themselves even if it means offending ticket-buying fans?

Source: wach.com

 
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