Free Speech and the NFL

The National Football League is an industry that provides entertainment via football games. Like every other industry, it answers to the law of supply and demand. The NFL will go on as long as people are willing to buy tickets to NFL games, watch NFL games on TV and buy NFL merchandise.

The 2017 NFL season has been irksome for some people because NFL players have chosen to exercise their freedom of speech by engaging in peaceful protest. For example, before their game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys knelt during the playing of the National Anthem.

If people don’t like NFL players exercising their freedom of speech in such a way, then the former can do the American thing – which is to refuse to watch NFL games and refuse to buy NFL merchandise.

The un-American thing to do would be to deny NFL players their freedom of speech.

It is true that NFL players aren’t exempt from the free-market consequences of their peaceful protest. That is where the law of supply and demand comes in. If NFL players don’t supply what NFL fans demand, then the latter can withhold their time and money from the former. A boycott is in itself an exercise of free speech.

The proper response to free speech that one doesn’t like is for one to engage in one’s own free speech.

It would be foolish at best to try to take a First Amendment right away from NFL players . . . or from anyone else living in the USA.

Personal Note: The fact that I defend the First Amendment rights of people in the USA doesn’t necessarily mean that I approve of the way that those people exercise their First Amendment rights.

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  • Scalia

    It would be foolish at best to try to take a First Amendment right away from NFL players . . . or from anyone else living in the USA.

    That’s all one needs to read to conclude, for the umpteenth time, that David doesn’t have a sweet clue what the debate is.

    David, not only are you stupid, you are profoundly stupid.

    • Brett Buck

      You would think with David’s legendary pretense of being a “moderate”, you would hope he would post only moderately stupid posts. But no, regardless of point of view, they are consistently “extreme”.

    • Retired military

      “It would be foolish at best to try to take a First Amendment right away from NFL players . . . or from anyone else living in the USA.”

      I guess freedom of speech doesnt extend to statues huh David

      • Sky__Captain

        Or Christian bakers.

  • RPK

    David, WHo is attempting to “deprive” these players of their 1st Amendment rights? I president speaking out and saying that creeps are creeps is not a violation of said creeps rights. I don’t understand your argument. This being said, I agree, the free market should and does work to deprive stupid rich ball players of the money they otherwise spend on watches, cars and women.

  • Retired military
  • Vagabond661

    I hope you are exercising your free speech, David.

    I would hate to find out you are getting paid for this gig.

  • jim_m

    David, like most ignorant fools who desire to stifle freedom and abuse there own freedom in order to oppress others, confuses freedom of speech with being provided a platform for that speech. NFL players have freedom of speech, the NFL is providing them a platform for that speech. Football fans and others are protesting that the NFL is wrong in providing that platform.

    If the NFL withdraws that platform (they won’t, they are a bunch of NY leftists and are probably all supporters of the communist mayor of NYC, DeBlasio), then the players are free to find another platform, or to create one for themselves. Being millionaires they should have no problem doing so.

    But David is either too ignorant or too much a liar to allow for such a distinction. He once again posts an article filled with lies and deception blaming the victims and lifting up the left wing oppressors.

  • Rdm42

    Gee. David comes out in favor of the kneelers. This is my shocked face.

  • Jwb10001

    David, no one has a right to do what ever the hell they want at WORK. These players are working they are in the employ of a company in an industry (I also now understand these antics are against league rules.) I can’t go to work and be disruptive I would get fired. I can’t go to work and preach religion, I can’t go to work and carry a sign protesting Trump or Obama or the man in the moon, I would get fired. None of that infringes on my freedom of speech but it does present a potential for consequences of my inappropriate exercise of freedom of speech. This is not the place for these protest, game time is work time, go to work do your job, bitch on your own time.

    • Scalia

      Good words, Jwb, but you’re wasting your time. David doesn’t know whether he’s pitching or catching. He’s astoundingly ignorant and what’s worse, he couldn’t care less.

      • Jwb10001

        I find it remarkable that these 1st amendment arguments all seem to ignore the fact that these people are at work. Would any of them dare pull this kind of stunt at their jobs? It’s completely disrespectful of their employer and their customers. They are selling a product and slapping 1/2 their customers in the face. Stupid on steroids (figuratively and literally)

  • Sky__Captain

    I have not seen where anyone in the government at any level attempting to stifle the NFL players. Therefore, no one’s First Amendment rights will be infringed upon.

    Also, these are not protests.
    There are an expression of a lack of respect for many things American, including the military and the police.
    It is no wonder that the NFL is suffering in brand favorability ratings, ticket sales and TV ratings. NFL fans don’t appreciate the utter lack of respect for America shown the last two weeks.

  • Sky__Captain

    Quoting David:
    “For example, before their game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas
    Cowboys knelt during the playing of the National Anthem.”

    It would appear that David did little to no research before writing his post. The Cowboys knelt “in prayer” before the National Anthem , then stood for the Anthem.
    Mind you, they kept their arms interlocked, instead of showing proper respect. The Cowboys tried to be cute and have their “protest” and satisfy their fans. It did not work.

  • Par4Course

    The whole premise of this article is false. Contrary to David’s statement above (“the Dallas Cowboys knelt during the playing of the National Anthem”) NONE of the Cowboys knelt during the national anthem. Per CNN: “Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joined his team in taking a knee before the National Anthem, then the Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals players stood with arms locked for the anthem ahead of the ‘Monday Night Football’ kickoff.”

    I’ve heard no one advocate that NFL players lose their right to free speech – including symbolic speech, which is equally protected (see Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)). The First Amendment prohibits GOVERNMENT action that interferes with speech. “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …” The First Amendment imposes no restrictions on private employers, such as NFL team owners, or on NFL fans. Like a lot of others, I’m not watching the NFL this year and, like the President, I’d cheer if a team owner fired the next SOB who took a knee during the anthem. None of that has one iota to do with taking away anyone’s First Amendment Rights.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    Could you please undertake some modicum of research before posting on this site? I mean, have you read about the NFL’s restrictions on celebrations after touchdowns? Kind of restricts the players’ expressive conduct, no? Have you read the US Constitution – you know, the part about “Congress shall make no law…?”

    Here’s a clue:

    Law Professor: Stop Saying Football Players Have a ‘Constitutional Right’ to Kneel During the National Anthem. They Don’t.
    Teresa Stanton Collett, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, sets the record straight.
    “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.”
    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.”

  • TheyTukRJobz

    Missing the issue. I don’t know a single person who wants to take anybody’s rights to free speech.

    The issue is that the NFL has stifled plenty of free speech from its players, but seems to be OK with this action of disrespecting the US flag and to the Republic for which it stands. People who delusionally say this isn’t an act of disrespect, please tell us why, then, the players in London stood for the British national anthem after kneeling for the American anthem?

    And the act of this political free speech is one that insults large numbers of fans. The NFL could have handled this by punishing Kaepernick the first time he decided to be a kneeling jackass during the anthem, which it should have based on its OWN POLICIES about such things.

    They can do what they want, but they’re going to have to do it without my attendance or viewership; they can piss on each other and then have a team circle-jerk on the field during the anthem for all I care. F the NFL.

  • Retired military

    David claims

    “The un-American thing to do would be to deny NFL players their freedom of speech.”


    §171. Conduct during playing

    During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

  • jim_m

    David, let’s play by your rules and the rules that your side demands that we all live by:

    1) According to you and your side: Feelings are what matter. Therefore: Kneeling during the anthem is hate speech. It expresses hatred and loathing toward America, American values and the American people. You can disagree with us but these are our feelings and cannot be gainsaid.

    2) According to you and your side: Hate speech is not free speech and is not protected under the constitution.

    3) According to you and your side: Hate speech is no different than physical violence and is equivalent to assault, meaning that all Americans witnessing these acts of kneeling violence are entitled to respond with violence to defend themselves.

    4) Therefore: Anyone kneeling during the anthem should be arrested for assault. Anyone choosing to do violence upon these kneeling players is entirely justified and should be applauded.

    There you go David. Your rules. This is how we should be responding to the NFL.

    • Brett Buck

      You need to work on your condescending tone and faux intellectual phrasing (toss in a few long words you don’t understand), but otherwise, very creditable effort.

  • Retired military

    I saw this and wondered why there isnt someone on WIZBANG talking about people having the write to free speech.
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