Some thoughts on the NFL’s history of “Free Speech” and being an American
The National Football League (NFL) has come under some fire of late for their latest order mandating that
players actually stand, like normal good citizens, for the playing of the national anthem at the start of
ball games…after tolerating other less than honorable actions for most of the previous season…
The NFL has come under fire for restraining “free speech”. Hmmm….
If we look at court rulings, I think we’ll find that the courts have ruled that if you’re on the company clock
and at the place of work you are not allowed to promote your own causes, advance your theological beliefs, sell candies for your favorite charity, etc., at the discretion of the company. Which means, the company can say “no” and control what happens on their property and while you’re getting paid.
But, let’s look further at the NFL’s history of “free speech”….
In 2012 the NFL had an issue with Tim Tebow kneeling for each game to pray. They also had an issue with Tebow wearing the phrase “John 3:16” as part of his blackout to avoid glare and forced him to remove it.
In 2013 the NFL fined Brandon Marshall for wearing green cleats to raise awareness for people with mental
health disorders. Perhaps the NFL wasn’t getting any commissions from the sales of these cleats?
In 2014 Robert Griffin III (RG3) tried to enter a post game press conference wearing a shirt that said “Know
Jesus, know peace.” But an NFL uniform inspector forced him to turn the shirt inside out before speaking
at the interview. More commissions lost?
In 2015 DeAngelo Williams was fined for wearing a “find the cure” eye patch for breast cancer awareness.
Also in 2015, William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness for domestic violence –
something considered by many to be an issue near and dear to the NFL.
In 2016 the NFL prevented the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmets in honor of five Dallas police officers killed in the line of duty.
In 2016 the NFL also threatened to fine players who wanted to wear cleats to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Yet all last season the NFL allowed players to disrespect the country by kneeling during the national anthem…under the guise of “free speech”.
All these instances of NFL violation of what would be presumed, by last seasons “standards”, to be expressions of free speech… Frankly, I have an issue with the continued tolerance of the NFL for players that blantantly publicly disrespect the country, yet the NFL responds with draconian actions on those that are almost inoccuous or in support of good community causes… Yet, I’m sure the NFL doesn’t want players uniforms looking like those of race car drivers with the names of every sponsor or cause celeb patched all over them! The NFL has a problem. Starting with how to maintain consistency yet not disrespect your country.
I would suggest that we could talk about this at the game this fall, but I won’t be there…I figure if you won’t voluntarily stand for your anthem and flag you shouldn’t be living under them…and nobody should have to force you to do so…especially when the same NFL won’t let players raise awareness for fallen police officers or other local issues as well.
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view, From Where I Stand.