Could the NFL fire the players disrespecting our flag?
Robert A. Hall
We all know that our Freedom of Speech is protected by the First Amendment to the constitution. But it seems like a lot of folks don't know who it's protected from. Please pay attention: it is protected from the government. Period. The government cannot censor you or punish you for saying what you think (unless you're a government employee; then they can restrict your speech as any employer would). Of course, if a government agency doesn't like your opinions, they can make it hot for you, as the IRS did with conservative groups, apparently with impunity.
"Freedom of Speech" doesn't protect you from private organizations or individuals. The local newspaper is not violating your "Freedom of Speech" when is declines to publish your letter or op-ed. A book publisher is not violating your "Freedom of Speech" when it politely informs you that your 200,000-word Great American Novel doesn't meet its present needs. And the local TV station is not violating your "Freedom of Speech" by not giving you a half hour of TV time to air your opinions about Trump, Obama, or Kim Jong Un. Or the NFL.
But what about your employer? Is that different? Not at all. Trying telling your organization's customers that the business is a rip off and they can get a better deal elsewhere. You will be fired. You will deserve it. You will be free to go to the park across the street and tell anyone who doesn't make a run for it what you think. But not as an employee.
And they can fire you for things you say outside of work that bring discredit to the organization.
Here's a recent example:
This fireman’s racist comment about black people and dogs cost him his job
A volunteer firefighter in
Ohio wrote on
Facebook that he would save a dog before saving a black person from a
burning building, because to him, “one dog is more important that a million
n*****s.” 20-year-old Tyler Roysdon of Franklin
Township, Ohio, was suspended
indefinitely once his superiors discovered the comment, and he later
resigned from his position. (Pardon the stars, but the media fears to report
accurate quotes about race, least their truthful accuracy be considered
So, his employer sure shut down his "Freedom of Speech" for something he said off the job, that brought discredit on the organization. Is there anyone--anyone--who thinks this jerk (substitute your expletive of choice, I thought of something far stronger), didn't deserve to be fired? Anyone who thinks the employer was wrong? I didn't think so. I'd have fired an employee who made similar remarks, in or out of work, in a heart beat. And so would 99% of you. And the courts would uphold us.
So the NFL has the perfect right to discipline and, yes, fire players who by disrespecting the flag bring discredit on the team. Especially among fans who are vets.
In fact, these players are in violation of the NFL's own rules.
NFL Game Operations Manual
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 their 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 the 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 forfeiture of draft choice/s for violations of the above, including first offenses.
Game Rules #5
Which covers Players, Substitutes, Equipment and General Rules, does include (in article) a section prohibiting players from “conveying personal messages” thoughout the game day while they are visible to the fans in attendance and television audiences, and from convey(ing) messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment which relate to political activities or causes...........
So the NFL has the right and the responsibility to discipline players for disrespecting the flag and the national anthem. Which means they agree with the players, or they are afraid of losing star players or they are scared of the black and anti-American fans who support this abomination. Thus the owners are anti-American, cowards or both.
I've long been a New England Pats fan, from my 14 years in
Massachusetts. I even
have a Pat's jersey. Living in Wisconsin, I've
also cheered for Green Bay.
I grew up in South Jersey, so used to cheer
for the Eagles, until they hired dog-killer Michael Vick. Players have been
arrested for domestic violence, drugs, assault and even murder and the owners
don't care, as long as they perform well on field.
But I'm a Marine Vietnam vet. Friends on mine died for that flag. I have a rubbing of one of their names on my pub room wall, Arthur J. Turner, a classmate from
in 1965. I didn't
watch a play last year. Not even the Super Bowl which I heard the Pats won. And
I won't watch a play this year. Neither will AJ. I won't be going to games,
buying gear or buying the sponsors products when I can ID them. This Bud's not
for me. Radio
Oh, and I'll be sending that Pat's jersey back to them. Perhaps not in pristine condition. And I'll send this column to any sponsors I can identify.
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts Senate. He retired in 2013 due to pulmonary fibrosis and underwent a lung transplant.