Apparently Owners CAN Fire Players For Kneeling During The Anthem
Not surprisingly, this report comes from Fox News.
While looking into whether or not NFL owners can actually fire players over kneeling during the national anthem, Fox’s Gregg Jarrett discovered that the answer is yes, they can.
According to Jarrett, the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” What this means is freedom of speech and expression does not extend to private businesses. It only applies to “government action,” and the Supreme Court has reiterated this notion in many of their rulings.
Jarrett points out that NFL teams and the league itself are privately owned. As a result, they are not obligated to provide their players with the freedoms provided by the First Amendment.
As for player contracts, they state the following:
“To conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for and approval of those associated with the game” (Paragraph 2). “ If player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by the Club to adversely affect or reflect on the Club, then the Club may terminate this contract” (Paragraph 11).
While Garrett points out the following regarding the collective bargaining agreement:
The collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the players’ union and approved by the players themselves authorizes suspension or termination “for conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football” (Article 46).
The two key things here are the following statements: “If player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by the Club to adversely affect or reflect on the Club, then the Club may terminate this contract,” and, “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
These two sentences from the players contract and collective bargaining agreement, respectively, give owners the right to fire a player if their conduct is deemed to be “detrimental” to the organization or league.
So is kneeling during the anthem “detrimental”? Garrett argues that it is:
Various polls show that a vast majority of Americans believe the player protests to be unpatriotic. Fans seem disgusted and many have decided to simply stop watching. The NFL television audience has dropped off. If it continues, it could cost the teams hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue, not to mention seats at games.
But even if statistics do not reliably show that offended fans are damaging a team’s finances, it is not necessary. If an NFL owner considers the players’ conduct to be disrespectful such that it reflects negatively on the club, this is enough for termination under the two contracts cited above. And, again, the First Amendment does not provide protection.
There you have it. Owners CAN fire a player on the spot for kneeling during the anthem, just as President Trump had requested during his rally in Alabama on Friday.
Now that that’s settled, I guess the next question is, “Who’ll be the first owner to actually do it?”
Hat Tip – [Fox News]