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NFL Will Face First Amendment Lawsuit If They Make Move Against Players

October 12, 2017

The legal fight over the NFL and the players concerning the national anthem is going to take center stage should a move be made to limit free speech.  That is certain.   While I am not a sports fan–and have never watched an entire football game in my life–I do love the legal side of things and finally sports might become interesting to me.  Some of my good friends are lawyers and this will provide many wonderful conversations.

Jerry Jones may want to bench Dallas Cowboy players who don’t stand for the national anthem, but NFL owners could find themselves facing a First Amendment lawsuit if they punish football players or coaches for their protests after taking government money into the private business of professional football.

The NFL is a private business — and the First Amendment only protects Americans from free speech abuses from the government. But legal experts differ on whether pro teams who play in publicly-funded stadiums or who accepted government money in exchange for patriotic displays like the national anthem could find themselves legally exposed if they punish kneeling players.

The money exchanged between governments and pro football teams could mean that discipline enforced by the team could be “fairly attributed to a government entity, meaning the employer could not discipline someone for taking a political position,” Harvard Law School professor Mark Tushnet said.

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