President Trump expressed his opinion as an American citizen that N.F.L. players should stand while the national anthem is played, but he crossed the First Amendment line by suggesting that team owners fire players like Colin Kaepernick who take a knee while the anthem is played. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones agrees with President Trump, apparently he was playing hooky from school with the President the day their teachers were teaching the American Constitution, specifically the First Amendment. N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell first signaled support for free speech, but now is back peddling announcing a meeting of team owners to determine whether players should be forced to stand during the national anthem. So what is Commissioner Goodell’s opinion, will he come down on the side of free speech or censorship?

When Commissioner Goodell expressed his initial reaction to players like Kaepernick who expressed their right of free speech, my first reaction was wow his reaction to the human rights/domestic abuses that have plagued the league was genuine, and the so-called sensitivity sessions he personally went through as a result was a true learning experience.

As Commissioner Goodell stated he personally would always stand for the anthem, but he respected the right of others not do likewise. Any sensitivity training or awareness education of domestic abuse Goodell experienced was rooted in our constitutional rights as citizens. I imagine this prompted his initial gut reaction.

Goodell respectfully held firm when President Trump first mentioned the subject by calling NFL players who took a knee “sons of bitches” at a political rally. He issued a politically correct statement respectfully disagreeing with the President for criticizing and name calling the players.

President Trump stepped up the pressure by tweeting


Then Vice-President Mike Pence walks out of a game in protest of the protest


Then came the real dilemma for Goodell, one of his 32 bosses publically sided with the President. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any player who took a knee. Goodell is the law only to the players, at the end of the day he is an employee of 32 owners who can fire him at any time.


President Trump keeps up the pressure by tweeting


Based on Commissioner Goodell’s day one reaction to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, I give him the benefit of doubt that he personally feels the players should have the right of free speech. Based on the fact that Colin Kaepernick with all his skills, is not a quarterback on any one of the 32 teams makes it clear that the owner’s don’t think players have the right of free speech.

The owner’s only concern is their bottom line with no concern for police brutality, free speech or any social causes. As a league they have the right to control what happens on the field and who does what on the field, but they would be wise to tread lightly before denying the players their constitutional rights.

Commissioner Goodell is between a rock and hard place, caught between the player’s constitutional rights and the owner’s money rights. His should offer both a compromise, players on the field have to stand for the national anthem, but those who don’t want to stand can stay in the locker room while it’s playing.

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