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The NFL, NAACP, and Free Speech

The NFL, NAACP, and Free Speech

Free speech works both ways

The NFL is in an unenviable position, but I think Jerry Jones accurately assessed the situation in stating that it is the perception of NFL fans that ultimately matters. The NFL brand is tarnished, and for many, irrevocably so.

While it’s clear to me that the kneeling protest of the American flag and anthem is unquestionably aimed at America herself, leftist apologists keep trying to say it’s about “racial injustice” and the lie that a “disproportionate” number of black people are either in prison or shot by police.

Now the NFL is embroiled in a controversy of its own making.  Instead of stopping the protests and demonstrating that its policies and standards would be applied across the board, it instead showed the nation that some protests are more equal than others.

Despite the left’s insistence that Vice President Pence’s decision to walk out of a game during which players knelt for the anthem was a “stunt,” neither I nor hundreds of thousands of American patriots needed President Trump or Vice President Pence to tell us that kneeling for the national anthem is disrespectful and anti-American, particularly when the purpose was explicitly stated to be refusal to respect America.

The NFL protests are not and never were about free speech, and it’s rather amusing to see the left, usually so attuned to “narratives,” miss the mark on this one.

Not only was ESPN anchor Jemele Hill suspended for urging her show’s five remaining viewers to boycott NFL advertisers, but the call itself was ill-considered.

Considering that patriotic Americans (including yours truly) are already boycotting the NFL and its advertisers, this is a ridiculously stupid call.

But that didn’t stop her co-host bravely deciding, after consultation with his ESPN bosses, to sit out the first show after her suspension.

Vibe reports:

News rapidly spread across the Net regarding the two-week suspension of ESPN host Jemele Hill over a second violation of the sports network’s social media guidelines. Her SC6 co-anchor Michael Smith will be sitting out tonight amid Hill’s highly-publicized suspension.

According to Sports Illustrated, Smith and the network came to a “mutual” agreement to sit Monday night’s show out; he will be replaced by Matt Berrie. Smith will return to the evening program tomorrow (Oct. 10).

Hill, who last month tweeted that she believes Donald Trump is a “white supremacist,” reportedly used her Twitter platform to encourage a boycott of the Dallas Cowboys. The football team’s owner, Jerry Jones, released a statement demanding that his players stand for the national anthem or risk being benched from games.

NFL ratings reportedly hit a season low on Monday.

The NAACP has released a statement that Jones is “violating” players’ rights.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s original civil rights organization, today responded to the assertion by Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, that players on his team who choose not to stand for the National Anthem will not be allowed to take the field.

“This is not an issue about our flag, this is an issue about police brutality, (racism, and the ability of members of the NFL whose communities are disproportionately impacted by police misconduct to peacefully say enough,” said NAACP interim President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “This is not simply a Black issue due to the number of white people also killed by police, but we know historically that when justice occurs for African Americans, all other members of our society benefit as well,” added Johnson.

Despite representing around 13 percent of the population, African-Americans are account for nearly a quarter of those individuals killed by police.

“Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided – they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech – one of the principles on which our nation was founded. They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril,” said Tony Covington, former NFL player and Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at the NAACP. 

Following Vice President Pence’s decision to walk out of a game in which players chose not to stand during the national anthem – at President Trump’s insistence – the NAACP believes that the NFL has an obligation to take a strong stance on behalf of its athletes and their rights. We have asked to meet with Commissioner Goodell in order to determine how he can best protect his players. We hope that he will work with us and the Players’ Association to forge this critical path forward. [emphasis in original]

The NAACP is also on the wrong side of the dominant narrative: taking a knee during the national anthem and before our nation’s flag is seen as disrespectful and insulting to our nation and to our nation’s military.  The NAACP can keep spitting into the wind on this one, but the NFL—like every other business—has, and is allowed to have, policies and rules covering its players behavior both on and off the field/job.

The NFL screwed up.  Bigly.  It should never have allowed the Kaepernick insult to our anthem and flag, just as it didn’t allow 9/11 recognition or tributes to assassinated police officers.  The NAACP didn’t jump in and demand that these players be permitted their free speech in supporting law enforcement and observing 9/11, so their protest now rings hollow.

The left wants us to believe that the First Amendment guarantees a compliant audience who must sit mutely and not respond in any way to someone else’s expression of their free speech.  That’s not true. We are not compelled to support or to in any way finance anti-American protests that insult our heritage and culture.

These spoiled players can take the knee in visible, televised anti-America sentiment against the “oppression” that affords them multi-million dollar contracts, and the NFL can say they cannot then play that day.  The players can insult America, her military, and her flag, and the American public and NFL supporters can respond by not participating in the NFL (watching, buying tickets or merchandise, and etc.) and by deciding we will not purchase the products of NFL advertisers.

Ain’t free speech grand?


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Their stunts are lawful protests. Everything else is a stunt. Gotcha.

    Aren’t you cute?

    The NFL decided to allow the politicization of football. Stupid. They further didn’t quite grasp that disrespecting our nation’s anthem and flag would hurt their bottom line. Stupid squared.

    The NFL turned a blind eye to the politicization of football, and are now outraged that what followed was, quite logically, a political response. Is this a difficult concept for you? Do you need me to expound on why it’s a bad idea to invite politics into a sports arena that most Americans see as entertainment, an escape from the divisive BS that has come to dominate television shows and film?

    Meanwhile, keep sputtering illogical nonsense. It suits you.

      great unknown in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | October 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Without knowing the history of Halcyon Daze’s comments, I would have to say that his comment was written with a pen dipped in the most potent sarcasm.

      Regarding the NAACP, their comment about ‘free speech’ brings to mind the recently published, “SJW Always Lie” by Vox and Milo.

      Granted, I would assume an enormous level of ignorance at the NAACP, but they have lawyers, don’t they?

    starride in reply to Halcyon Daze. | October 10, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    That sarcasm is dripping like Niagara..

While I continue to ignore the NFL, I can’t help noticing that sportscasters paid to talk about the NFL are ignoring football.

Years ago I worked for an elderly gentleman that had played pro football with and for George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas. He told me that a hat would be passed around among the fans for their pay. The bubble has burst and Jerry Jones understands this. Get the hats out players.

I agree totally, that if people want to protest anything that they have to accept protests of their actions as well. To do otherwise is the eight of hypocrisy.

But, you, like many others are missing the big picture. This has nothing to do with racial inequality. In this country, every minority enjoys greater benefits than the majority. The demographic which is subjected to the greatest level of legal discrimination is white, non-Hispanic males. Followed closely by white, non-Hispanic females.

Minorities enjoy such benefits as racial quotas and affirmative action. Also, social rules are far more lenient for minorities than they are for the majority. We have Hispanic heritage month, Black History month, LGBT History month but no white History Month. We have all kinds of “fraternal” groups, award programs, observance periods, etc. geared entirely to individual racial and ethnic minorities. But, let someone start a whites only organization or awards program and they are crucified.

During the American Civil War, 828,000 men died to free the black slaves in the South. Almost all of those men were white. The Civil Rights act of 1964 was passed by white politicians with the support of white Americans. Since then White America has endured the hardships of affirmative action and racial quotas which favor minorities. Government work forces routinely run to 60-90% black, even though black Americans only make up 12% of Americans while non-Latino whites make up about 62% and Latino Whites make up about 12%. Does anyone really think that the non-Hispanic White population of this country is unaware of this active discrimination? For the last 53 years, the white majority in this country has been very patient with all of this ingratitude. Whites have sacrificed their historical prerogatives to grant equality to all races, ethnicities, genders, religions and reasonable sexual orientation. And, proving the old saying, “give someone an inch and right away he thinks he is a ruler”, they have been repaid with not only ingratitude, but, now, the attempted destruction of their society and the nation which they built.

What you are seeing is an easily predicted backlash, from the majority. And, if anyone here thinks that this was not sought by the leadership of those which oppose the continued existence of this country then you are out of touch with the real world. Certain groups have been pushing for a racial or class civil war for the last 15 years. And, they are close to getting it. It is being handed to them by the short sighted, brainwashed minority activists of all stripes.

We see continual disruptive demonstrations by privileged minorities, in the workplace and in public. No one seems outraged. But, let whites conduct even non-disruptive demonstrations and they are held up as demons to be crucified. This nation will only survive when all people are treated equally. When people look at a person’s picture and see only a picture of a human being [ it is alright to criticize the haircut, though]. If the activists keep pushing, very bad things will happen. People had better wake up and start demanding that everyone practice the same type and level of respect and politeness towards everyone else.

    Immolate in reply to Mac45. | October 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

    The majority didn’t give the minority their freedom or their rights, Mac. God gave them that, and the majority simply recognized that. Other than that, spot on.

      Mac45 in reply to Immolate. | October 11, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      You can believe what you want. However, now natural disaster, a la Sodom and Gomorrah, freed the slaves. It was the actons of the white majority in this country. Historically, with the possible exception of the parting of the Red Sea, God has not directly freed the slaves of any nation. And, as the practice continues to this very day, in many parts of the world, He doesn’t seem too concerned about it.

      People prattle on about GOD-given rights. However, these supposed “rights” have been denied to people all across the globe for the entire time of human existence. And, there are very few accounts of divine intervention to guarantee these “rights”. Human beings DIED to free black slaves in the US during the Civil War, not lightning from the sky.

    Casey in reply to Mac45. | October 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    True, we don’t have a White History Month. What we had in fact for a couple of centuries was a White History Year annually*.

    These days it’s been pared down to 11 months out of the year, giving black Americans their month.

    Me, I agree with Morgan Freeman. The best way to deal with this crap is stop talking about it all the time.

    *No, really. When I was a kid black Americans were hardly mentioned, even histories about WW2. I grew up reading American Heritage & Time-LIFE histories, and there were I think maybe 3 photos with black Americans in them, and no mention of their accomplishments such as the Pacific-Alaskan highway, Red Ball Express, or the Tuskegee Airmen. I think it was the 1970s before I even learned that we had black combat pilots.

      Mac45 in reply to Casey. | October 11, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      This is just more liberal propaganda. When I was in public school (pre-1970), we had mimeographs, but no personal computers, we learned about the contributions of Black Americans. People such as George Washington Carter, Frederick Douglas, Booker T Washington, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner, to name a few. We did not learn about these people because they were black, but because they contributed in a notable fashion to the development of this country. Since then, as opportunities for Blacks expanded in the 60s, 70s and 80s. many black Americans have been added. But, you know who gets left of that list, by progressives and progressive institutions? People like Clarence Thomas. I wonder why?

      But still, progressives find it necessary to set aside a whole month to “honor” people for simply being Black. As I said, if we set aside a month to honor people for being white, progressives would have a cow and the supporters of such a thing would be demonized. So, let’s get real here. Slavery was abolished 152 years ago. Legal discrimination against blacks ended 52 years ago. There has been active measures to eliminate discrimination against blacks during that time. In an effort to offset the harm done by slavery and legal discrimination, racial quotas and affirmative action schemes, both of which benefit blacks [and other minorities] were put into place, along with other race based incentives. And still, black America would have us believe that it is discriminated against to the point where it lags behind white America [including the NFL where nearly 70% of its players are black]. How long is it going to take black Americans to catch up with white America? 75 years? 100 years? Never? If you listen to most minority activists, there will never be minority equality until all non-Hispanic whites are gone from the country.

      There is discrimination, alright. But the bulk of it is directed toward the non-Hispanic white majority. But that demographic does not complain about it. Until now.

As I’ve often noted, markets work.

Nobody needs to get their hair on fire. Just do what makes market sense.

Unfortunately, I believe that the torch has been passed from our generation of Geezers to a Newer and Dumber Generation.

And Demographics are not our friend.

Other than that, things are just going along swimmingly.


The league didn’t immediately put the kibosh on players’ protest for fear of the Leftist shitstorm, in the form of a call for sponsor boycotts, they knew would result. So instead of standing up for its own image and the values held by (arguably) the majority of its fans, it kowtowed to the threat. When Trump voiced what many fans were thinking, the league collectively (meaning the owners and coaches as well as the commissioner) transformed the protests’ theme from racism to an anti-Trump message (as if the man in the “bully pulpit” should have remained silent – it ain’t called that for nothing). This further estranged a large segment of fans.

Now, too little and too late, the league has decided to enforce its rules and policies, but in so doing is further insulting the fans who realize the 180 degree turn was made because the league’s bottom line is hurting, and not because the league actually has found respect for its fans (it having been made obvious in recent weeks that the league does not respect the fans).

To me its just a question of professionalism. And the actions of the players and the organisation speaks to a utter and complete lack of professionalism.

I spit my milk out every time a liberal bangs on about black players being oppressed. Mate, I want to be oppressed like the black players too, what with those millions of dollars of oppressive white money being forced upon them every year!!!

Must be absolutely horrible for them to be oppressed in such a obvious way.

Well, NFL and ESPN, you made your beds with the SJWs and now they own you.

That sure was a couple of nice businesses you had there once.

Is there any institution, product, view or belief in this country that has not been politicized by the miserable left?

Now the NFL is embroiled in a controversy of its own making. Instead of stopping the protests and demonstrating that its policies and standards would be applied across the board, it instead showed the nation that some protests are more equal than others.

Bingo. TY.

Business would be great if it weren’t for the customers.

EthnicCatholic | October 11, 2017 at 9:19 am

They are free to exercise their protests, and I am free to tune out and deprive them of their livelihood — I am realizing that football needs me more that I need football….

I know here, where I work, we do not engage in political banter or protests with our customers. What a ridiculous thing to do.

I would have to add that real football fans love our players, and appreciate their feats of prowess, but we do not kid ourselves that most of them are ‘paragons of virtue’. They are sports performers – and some are great guys – but I sure don’t want a lecture on morality or ‘social solutions’ from our ‘currently unincarcerated’ team members.

Fuzzy Slippers: Free speech works both ways

Sure it does. Fans have every right to voice their disapproval. However, the President, as chief executive of the United States government, has called for the government to punish private citizens for exercising their free speech.

Trump: Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!

Trump: With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!

    gmac124 in reply to Zachriel. | October 11, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Neither of your examples show that Trump is calling for the government to punish citizens. What you should really be asking is why does a multi-billion dollar industry HAVE tax breaks?

    The second is a rhetorical question about what should be allowed not a call for the government to act. Really the best response for fake news is to let the market take care of them.

    So are you now saying that the President can’t float ideas and see what kind of response the people have? How anti first amendment of you.

    Connor MacCleod in reply to Zachriel. | October 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Sorry about the down vote, meant to hit the reply button.

    That said, who was President when the IRS targeted conservative groups with massive donor inquiries, endless delays for seeking tax-exempt status and armed pre-dawn raids? Or was that ok because, agenda?

    gmac124: So are you now saying that the President can’t float ideas and see what kind of response the people have?

    That’s right. It’s wrong for the chief executive to U.S. government to “float” the threat that private citizens should be punished by the government for their peaceful exercise of free speech.

      gmac124 in reply to Zachriel. | October 11, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      What threat? Suggesting congress should look into tax and fcc laws? That happens all of the time for numerous reasons. However having the IRS target them without tax law changes is illegal….unless of course they are conservatives.

        gmac124: Suggesting congress should look into tax and fcc laws?

        Trump specifically tied changes to tax law to the free speech of NBC. And it wasn’t just a suggestion. He said, “Change tax law!”

        Trump clearly doesn’t understand the First Amendment, saying “It is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” yet he is charged with defending the Constitution.

What’s really ironic is that according to the NFL rules, owners have the right to discipline players who fail to stand to attention for the anthem, and so on.

Owners enjoy a “get out of jail responsibility” card in that the rules says the league “may” discipline players, not “shall.”

That’s why Zachriel’s complaint about free speech is so laughable. All Trump did was suggest the owners enforce the rules. That’s not to mention free speech may be abridged in certain situations. For example, currently serving members of the armed forces have the right to engage in political speech & activities, but not while wearing the uniform.

In a similar vein, when speaking for, or acting as a representative of a business, one may be held responsible for words or actions which may be taken as representative of the company. That’s why you shouldn’t use the company BBS or email to bitch about the company. Well, unless you want to get fired.

Football players are wearing team jerseys and are in the stadium as members of a particular team. As such they represent said team, and are accordingly responsible for their actions while in uniform. I don’t doubt the case is much stronger if these young men showed up in civilian clothes on their day off to participate in a march.

    Casey: All Trump did was suggest the owners enforce the rules.

    No. Trump threatened government action.

    Casey: That’s not to mention free speech may be abridged in certain situations.

    Sure, but NFL players are not in the military. They are private citizens working for a private business.

    Casey: In a similar vein, when speaking for, or acting as a representative of a business, one may be held responsible for words or actions which may be taken as representative of the company.

    Possibly. That’s a matter for the owners and players to work out, not while under threat by the government for the NFL allowing peaceful protest.

    Mr. President: Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment? — Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska)