Taking a Knee

The controversy over NFL Players taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest the deaths of young Black men at the hands of police departments, in cities large and small across the United States, reminded me of something.


In the mid-1990s I worked my way through graduate school, among other things, by working as a security guard. One of the things I did as part of my job was to train new people on some of the sites I worked at. One of those trainees was another graduate student, who was a retired Lieutenant in the police department of a large local city.


Like many former cops he was intelligent and voluble. It was a few years after the Rodney King incident and the LA Riots. We began talking about this between patrols of the site, an industrial plant.


He said he started as a cop in the summer of 1969, then 26 or 27 year prior to our conversation.


He told me that at the time he started, the news was full of pictures of British Soldiers deployed in Belfast due to the violent collapse of the initially-peaceful Civil Rights Movement in Ulster. The Brits were brought in to protect the Catholic minority, but soon became deeply resented by them because the Brits restricted them to ensure peace. Although he was Italian, not Irish, he had followed the story because it was featured on the 3 then-existing network news broadcasts.


His initial assignment as a rookie  was to a very poor, predominantly Black section of the City as a beat cop. He soon noticed that the local people disliked and distrusted him as a cop. He understood it, when he or any other cop got involved in anything on those streets, things got worse for people for whom life was fairly dire in the first instance. (Something a professor I had in law school, who had spent years as a DA in New York City, also commented upon in almost the same words.)


However, while he understood this intellectually, emotionally, when you are around people who fear and hate you, you find yourself fearing and hating them in return. In time, he began to identify with the British Soldiers he saw patrolling the Fall Road in Belfast every night at 6:30 p.m. on Walter Cronkite or the Huntley-Brinkley Report.


The law professor who had been a DA had a slightly more intellectual explanation. She said police agencies protect lives and property by restricting freedom and, if you have less property, you may really resent the imposition on your freedom.


In the summer of 2014, this issue again (admitting that, if you live in certain places or come from certain ethnic origins, it is never NOT there) came to the fore with the death of 18 year old Michael Brown, who had been shot by a Fergusson, MO police officer.


Subsequent investigation indicated that Brown had tried to grab the officer’s gun despite being repeatedly advised not to do so. In that circumstance, the use of deadly force was justified.


But, however justified, this use of deadly force was tragic.


Brown did something that was both dangerous and unjustified. However, anyone who has been responsible for 18 year olds (or has been an 18 year old man) knows that neither kind of behavior is uncommon at that age.


As a result, Michael Brown is dead. Michael Brown’s family has an empty chair at the dining table in perpetuity. The officer who shot him, by all accounts a capable and honest man, where neither case was necessarily the norm at his police agency, will live with having taken Brown’s life for the rest of his life. As Hemingway said of war, “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”


I vaguely remember that Antonin Scalia, of all people, wrote in one of his Supreme Court opinions something like, “As Gilbert & Sullivan wrote ‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one,’ outside of a police state.” Police Officers have a difficult job: high stress; long hours; and, not infrequently, danger. The vast majority of them do what they do honorably and well.  Jack Webb, an actor, writer and producer who worked with the LA PD throughout his career, wrote a monologue in one of his programs that rings pretty true about that majority.


However, it is worth asking how much the phenomenon that retired police lieutenant and I talked about so long ago factors into the numerous incidents where deadly force is used against young Black and Hispanic men . . . and what we can do about that.


For Colin Kaepernick, an NFL Quarterback ("QB") with a somewhat uneven career, that "what" became taking a knee during the national anthem. 


Some have said this might be a way of keeping himself relevant despite his uneven career as a QB.  Others point out that Kaepernick is know to be a bright and serious man and, as a bi-racial man, raised by a White family, these issues strike home in a very powerful and personal way.  During the 2015-'16 Season, Kaepernick's protest spread.


Some commentators have said, correctly, that Kaepernick has no 1st Amendment rights against his Team or the NFL, that one can only assert 1st Amendment rights against a State Actor (a Federal, State or Local Government).


However, while it may NOT be a Constitutional issue as to Kaepernick, it may be a Federal Civil Rights Law issue and even possibly a Federal Antitrust Law issue.


The NFL has become a platform for causes, such as players wearing pink to promote breast cancer awareness during October.  If other players have done things or worn things as symbolic speech without general League approval, as Kaepernick has, then the NFL may face a Federal Employment Discrimination claim for failing to sign Kaepernick, a member of a protected class who engaged in symbolic speech regarding the interests of that protected class, where other NFL players were allowed to engage in Symbolic Speech over other issues without adverse consequences.


Further, if Kaepernick had not been signed because of a consensus reached by the owners, they could be subject to anti-trust claims.  (Professional Football, unlike Major League Baseball, is subject to the Federal Antitrust Laws.  Radovich v. National Football League, 352 U.S. 445 [1957].)


There is the counterargument that Kaepernick is not signed because he is an inconsistent player who is now past his prime.  However, that is a question of fact, which means the issue likely can't be resolved on a motion for summary judgment (especially a 12(b)(6) Motion for Summary Judgment for Failing to State a Claim), without substantial (and expensive) discovery and substantial (and expensive) expert opinion.


Further, for the players who took a knee after Pres. Trump made his comments, there is at least an argument that there is state action, which would implicate the players right to free speech.  




opher goodwin Added Sep 26, 2017 - 3:03pm
Opher's World blog takes a knee.
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:06pm
They were brought in to protect the Catholics. 
On the other hand, their presence fuelled the growth of the Provisional Wing of the IRA(the "Provos").  As indicated above, the British Soldiers deployed soon began to resent those they were there to protect . . . and the reverse.  
Not the first time intervention in a Low Intensity Conflict/Small Wars/COIN scenario has been counter productive.
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:18pm
As always you demonstrate your ignorance.
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:22pm
My mother was Irish.  My father was Scots and some of his family served in Ulster after 1969.  Additionally, as an Officer in the US Army,  I served with British Officers who served in Ulster in the 1970s and the1980s.
Usually, I could care less about your limitations, but this annoys me.  
Leroy Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:25pm
Interesting perspective, John M.
I think people should show respect when a national anthem is played regardless of the country for which it is for.  I don't care if they kneel or stand, but they should show some action.  If they don't want to show respect, I am fine with that too.  I would rather know that they don't respect their country rather than standing because they faced a fine.  I am free to change the channel.
I hadn't thought about the legal aspect of it in that way. 
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:40pm
"They were sent to suppress the nationalists."
The Nationalists were getting their asses kicked by the Orange Order.  The Brits came in to protect them and antagonized them triggering a mess of an insurgency.
Not the first time nor the last . . . . 
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:42pm
I think a lot of them are showing respect by demonstrating they don't agree with something.  Some are going along because it is trendy.  That always happens with almost anything you can name. 
Michael B. Added Sep 26, 2017 - 6:56pm
John, good piece, as usual. Hmmm...I remember many times in my Army days seeing other soldiers literally tripping and falling over themselves to get inside a building when "Retreat" was being sounded. I guess to some people, even military personnel, there can be only so much hyper-jingoistic patriotism! Personally, I think that they should be able to express themselves. I'm not a sports fan at all, and most jocks I've known have been total dicks, so I haven't expressed much interest in the whole standing/kneeling jock dickhead thing. Everything is becoming excessively and stupidly political these days.
Regarding the whole police thing, the underlying argument of the late Darryl Gates of the LAPD against so-called community policing was that the assigned officers would become more prone to turn antagonistic toward the people in their areas and more susceptible to corruption. The Rampart Scandal was actually a fairly garden-variety case. The gangs pretty much treat law enforcement as rivals for control of their turf, and much like certain guerillas, as the state takes harsher and harsher action, they gain more allies, recruits, and sympathizers.
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 7:11pm
"The gangs pretty much treat law enforcement as rivals for control of their turf, and much like certain guerillas, as the state takes harsher and harsher action, they gain more allies, recruits, and sympathizers."
You do hear people say that LA would be ungovernable without the various gangs . . . . 

Michael B. Added Sep 26, 2017 - 7:22pm
I think WB's very own Shane Laing would have some good info/intel, as he is a British Army veteran and I'm pretty sure he had multiple tours in Northern Ireland/Ulster, take your pick. It's actually kind of surprising how many Americans are completely ignorant of the amount of support the Provos and others got from the States.
John Minehan Added Sep 26, 2017 - 7:41pm
Irish Northern Aid (also known as "M-60 MGs are us.")
Lord Jim Added Sep 26, 2017 - 7:43pm
When you accept a position, you represent the company that you work for. You agree to give up your personal choices, and do what you are assigned to do.
That has been changing over the years, and Civil Rights have been dictated by law.
But the NFL, MLB and the NBA own their players. Just as in the pre emancipation days of Slavery. They buy, sell and trade players at will. The players are held to a code of conduct, no other profession is held to.
Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling on other sports. Michael Vick was banned for a couple years for dog fighting. Apparently gambling is worse than dog fighting. Adrian Peterson a Viking was allowed to play that weekend after beating his wife. I guess women are not as important as dogs to the NFL.
The point is that rules are arbitrary and adjusted for the circumstance.
So why are Major Sports allowing disrespect for The American Flag and National Anthem, which they present by choice at the beginning of games? Trump was right that it is being allowed, even though he did not attack the NFL, but the players.
Is it because ratings are low? Are ticket sales down? Are the Patriots, Patriotic? This is a manufactured crisis. I can remember when  Donald Sterling had to sell the Clippers for racial remarks. Do words speak louder than actions?
Why do I think all this kneeling is a fraud, perpetrated to draw attention away from the coming North Korea slaughter. Is Trump trying to reawaken Patriotism, in his own inimitable way?
When Rosie O Donnell made a mockery of singing the National Anthem, people booed. But it was over quickly , This National Dis Respect is just getting started. OR IS IT JUST COMING TO A HEAD, to justify action against protest?
George N Romey Added Sep 26, 2017 - 8:43pm
Football players are paid to play football and do as their employer requires of the job. Do you think I could refuse to do a spreadsheet in protest and keep my job? I find it interesting that pro athletes are one
of the few occupations the Deep State hasn't destroyed.  Let pro athlete salaries suffer like so many other occupations then they will really be pissed. 
Lord Jim Added Sep 26, 2017 - 11:49pm
I agree George. The players have the tacit approval of the owners to create interest. The owners did the same thing with fighting on the field. Emptying the bench is now part of Baseball. Punching has been part of hockey as long as I can remember, now politics are a part of NBA and NFL.
I believe they are all taking lessons from Pro Wrestling.
It is all a big show! A rule that anyone not participating in opening ceremonies would not play that season would end the show!
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 27, 2017 - 2:21am
What's being ignored in this well written article is the fact that DOD is paying millions to the league every year to propagandize the public by conflating football with patriotism. Cynical jingoism that clearly has been disgustingly effective based upon the number and degree of meltdowns. 
Stop playing the anthem.
Problem solved. 
EXPAT Added Sep 27, 2017 - 3:43am
You are a total hypocrite. You hear the Thai anthem at 8 am and 6 pm every day. If you go to ANY sport event or gathering in Thailand, you stand for it, or get your ass kicked by some Thai Patriot.
EXPAT Added Sep 27, 2017 - 3:44am
An account of some of the individual contracts tells the story. For example, as USA Today reported, the NFL received the lion’s share with $6 million. NASCAR received $1.56 million in 2015 alone because the DOD deemed the expense “integral to its recruiting efforts,” as The Washington Post reported. The Atlanta Falcons received $879,000 in taxpayer money, while the New England Patriots received $700,000, and the Buffalo Bills took $650,000. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves led Major League Baseball with $450,000, while the Minnesota Wild received the most of any National Hockey League team with $570,000.
In addition, the Army National Guard paid the New York Jets $20,000 for a Hometown Hero video board feature, and paid the Milwaukee Brewers $49,000 for the Sunday singing of “God Bless America.”
The Senate report condemned the practice as “paid patriotism,” with 72 contracts containing items such as on-field color guards, field-sized American flags, fireworks, enlistment ceremonies, national anthem performances, hometown hero and wounded warrior tributes and other examples. Further, the report found the DOD could not account for all of the contracts it awarded or how much was spent, with an official response to the senators’ request accounting for only 62 percent of 122 contracts with major league teams, and 70 percent of the more than $10 million spent on the contracts.
EXPAT Added Sep 27, 2017 - 4:05am
I agree DOD is wrong. But paying to advertise your brand is nothing new.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 27, 2017 - 5:00am
You are a total hypocrite
Thanks. It means a lot coming from you. No, really. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 27, 2017 - 5:11am
You are a total hypocrite
I don't go to sport events in any country since sophomore year at uni. No concerts, nor theater, movies, anywhere the King's Anthem may be played. We prefer no clothing so that precludes attending events. 
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Have a great day!
wsucram15 Added Sep 27, 2017 - 7:52am
Look..it is football. George you have the right to free speech and also the right to be fired for same. Litigation is a part of the process.  It depends on rules via the company handbook.  There is usually a warning process first but depends on the infraction.  I know one employee Corporate insisted on firing over a shirt that was worn to work that insulted others.  The employee appealed and filed a complaint against the company.
It was not in the handbook and they had to re-instate him and pay back pay..ONLY because there was NOTHING in the handbook over "offensive or political clothing" worn in the workplace .  Shortly after that, the company began a deduction out of everyone's paycheck for uniforms and the wording was put into the NEW  AMENDED handbook.
If the NFL players have a contract that they are violating, by protesting then they have a problem.  I dont think they do as of now.  It is free speech...the First Amendment.  THERE IS ONE EXCEPTION and that IS FIGHTING WORDS DOCTRINE.
This is more the Presidents problem now, he is kinda sorta violating his oath of office by not upholding his duties.  You know where he swears to uphold the Constitution?  Pretty sure that includes Bill of Rights.   He is attempting to suppress those rights and its not the first time.
I dont want to hear it..its ok if he hits a golf ball into Hillary Clinton and threatens to kill her, lock her up, insults women, threatens another world leader with war, tries to have an ESPN broadcaster fired because she opposes him, denies that WS killed that Heather Heyer, and any number of other idiocies...IT TAKES FOOTBALL for anyone to say anything.
Bill Kamps Added Sep 27, 2017 - 8:36am
John,  CK has the  right to free speech, but not necessarily at work.  Simple as that.  He wasnt put under arrest, he was shunned.  While there is no rule at the moment that prohibits what he did, his employer can still have an opinion and act on it. It is important to note that he wasnt fired for his action.  He wasnt even released by the team, though the contract options he and the team had would have made this likely.
Not hiring someone for age discrimination, and a few other reasons can get you taken to court.  Not hiring someone because  you dont like them, is not a protected situation.
Now it is the NFL, and had Tom Brady been the one taking a knee, he would still have  a job.  However, stars are treated differently than marginal players, just like critical employees are treated differently than marginal ones, welcome to the real world. 
So we have a marginal employee who did something controversial at work.  I dont know why anyone is surprised that he has found it difficult to get a job. 
He may still get a job, if enough quarterbacks get injured or fail to perform well.
opher goodwin Added Sep 27, 2017 - 8:57am
Leroy - why should they show respect for a bunch of elite figures in the establishment who run the place for profit and use patriotism as a way of controlling the masses and keeping them under?
Fuck patriotism.
Dino Manalis Added Sep 27, 2017 - 9:31am
The National Anthem brings us together as a country and shows respect to our veterans and all the others who serve and have fallen for our country.  It's the least we can do!  Take your protest somewhere else!  The NFL should only be about football!
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 27, 2017 - 10:00am
"I am the great and powerful Oz - Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Great Oz has spoken"
This whole discussion is not about patriotism or jingoism or any other ism. It is about the ability of a charlatan to distract the attention of a nation, and indeed the world, and the ability of that charlatan to grab ahold of a hot button issue in order to draw attention away from the other failures of his administration.
All the points about free speech and serving at the discretion of a private employer are valid, but the rapid intensification of the discussion is merely an attempt at distraction
wsucram15 Added Sep 27, 2017 - 10:34am
Even a Broken Clock..Touche'
Ron Lehker Added Sep 27, 2017 - 11:19am
Thanks for sharing your experience through this report. Very telling.   I have pondered what I might contribute and do resulting from my prized experience as principal of an inner city school.  Here is what I came up with:

Standing and/or kneeling with the young athlete.
As a former junior high school and high school coach and principal, my heart goes out to the millions of school football players this Friday. Our outspoken president has chosen to place them in a moral dilemma. External and internal pressures will pull them in conflicting directions. Authoritarian figures, role models, community members and even family and friends will exert untold pressure on them. Too soon they will learn how cruel and judgmental people can be when they compel people to make decisions about complex issues that have perplexed societies for ages.
And what should be my stand as an allegedly thoughtful, mature senior citizen. One who both loves his country but throughout his lifetime has seen, and tried to ameliorate, the conditions placed upon various minority groups by the white majority throughout our country's history.  How our forebears even profited by exploiting them.
While our president's candidacy and "rule" continues to unfortunately be fraught with divisive actions and statements, perhaps one positive result will be to activate those of us who have too silently "gone with the flow." I can think of two ways that I might personally express my feelings.

Why not do BOTH! Those who attend football games this weekend might stand for the first half of the National Anthem and kneel at the half way point as we sing, “And the rockets' red glare....”

I shall also personally make a further contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, two agencies that support free speech and other civil rights efforts.

May each participant, and all in attendance, be guided by their concern for the "other."
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 11:28am
"If you want a symbolic gesture, don't burn the flag; wash it."----Norman Thomas
Ron Lehker Added Sep 27, 2017 - 11:37am
Why throw in something that hasn't recently been on the table?
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 11:57am
Couple of thoughts on the law:
In most states, employees are "at will," in other words, they can be fired (and can quit) at any time for any reason or for no reason. 
An exception to this is with employees retained subject to a contract of employment (generally people with great skills, doctors in most cases, actors under the studio system or those employed under a collective bargaining agreement) who may only be terminated according to the terms of their contract.  Football players in the NFL are employed subject to contracts both due to their particular skills and as members of a union.
Now, in both cases there is a substantial exception: "any reason or no reason" or an event of termination under a contract CANNOT be for a pernicious reason. 
Thus, an employer can't fire you because you are Black or Jewish or pregnant, r are over 40 or are married or single or are a member of any other "protected class." 
Obviously, if I were retained by the NFL or by any player, I would not be writing this.  Here is the problem I think the NFL may have here: if other players have acted sua sponte to promote a cause by symbolic speech (like Kaepernick's taking a knee) without adverse action, the NFL may have a problem.
As a man of bi-racial origen, Kaepernick is a member of a protected class.  Kaepernick's symbolic speech relates to an issue of particular importance to that protected class.  With things like wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and (as someone alluded to) taking money from DoD, the NFL has become a platform for messages. 
While Kaepernick was not fired (and opted himself to become a free agent), he is still a QB who brought a team to the Super Bowl in his second year in the League who is not signed despite several QBs being injured. 
Defenses like "Kaepernick is inconsistent" or "Kapernick is getting older," are questions of fact.  At minimum, it will require paper discovery and Examination Before Trials ("EBTs") before you can even attempt a dispositive motion.  The particularly important type of motion this precludes is a 12(b) (6) motion for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, which could nip this in the bud.
With other s who have done this, particularly after Pres. Trump's comments, you have a couple of other problems: 1) practically, how can I fire (or otherwise discipline) so many players; and 2) with Pre. Trump's statement, do we now have State Action and is the protection of the 1st Amendment implicated.
As Prof. Michael Hutter used to tell his students when he discussed some untried aspect of law, "Do you really want to be the test case?" 
Shane Laing Added Sep 27, 2017 - 11:58am
I served as a soldier in Ulster 82-85.  Yes we were there to support the police. Originally we went their to support catholics. This is true enough. Older colleagues of mine who had served in the 70s remember patrolling in the catholic areas and being given tea and cakes, would stop and have a chat with the locals, all very friendly.  We were seen to be a force to prevent the "Black and Tans" (police, all protestant) from basically beating the crap out of them. With the forming of NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) to improve job prospects, housing conditions etc hope was kindled from a catholic point of view. The protestants took exception to catholics  getting better conditions and that they should sod off over the border.  Violence from both sides became the norm with soldiers stuck in the middle.  Money was gathered by the million in the US with the Kennedys being big supporter, it was also said that Macdonalds were contributors 5 cents per meal sold. Weapons and explosives were bought (and donated) from Libya and smuggled over the border into Ulster.  The IRA always get the worst press as they carried out bombings on the UK mainland but protestant organisations were just as bad. Yes we hated people like Gerry Adams (an unemployed barman who wore very expensive suits and travelled the world) but we hated Ian Paisley (Bloody Sunday would never occurred if this prick hadn't held a counter demonstration) and his deputy Peter Robinson just as much.  The real shame of it was the people on both sides (discounting the extremists) were very friendly and hated the violence. I enjoyed my tours there. As to the protests in the NFL. I saw the players who were kneeing and they still had their hands on their hearts and some singing so hardly being disrespectful.  
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 1:23pm
"When Rosie O Donnell made a mockery of singing the National Anthem, people booed."
Wasn't it Rosanne Barr?
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 1:29pm
Ian Paisley was a real troublemaker.  Odd thing was that he became an influential MP in the European Parliament, serving from 1979-2004.
Shane Laing Added Sep 27, 2017 - 1:54pm
Both him and Martin McGuiness successful during the power sharing.
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 2:16pm
Funny how people work together when they have to or its in their interest . . . .
FOUSESQUAWK Added Sep 27, 2017 - 3:25pm
Where do I go to take a knee when I see BLM crowds chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, Fry'em up like bacon" or "What do we want-dead cops. When do we want it -Now"?
Micahel Dolan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 3:50pm
SQUWAK- great question----Simple Answer-----
Where do you go??-Go after those who support the scum bums in Antifa=BLM=Democrap leftist Louses, who are backing these thugs.
Billy Roper Added Sep 27, 2017 - 4:01pm
Anti-Whites taking a knee represents the failure of civic nationalism. One side has decided that those overriding symbols which unites us above and beyond our differences...don't. Cool.
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 4:09pm
"Anti-Whites taking a knee represents the failure of civic nationalism. One side has decided that those overriding symbols which unites us above and beyond our differences...don't. Cool."
Or, have they decided that part of what unites us is our right to express opinions, even unpopular ones?
Not without risk, of course.  But Trump's opining may make it more of a First Amendment issue.  
John Minehan Added Sep 27, 2017 - 4:13pm
"Where do I go to take a knee when I see BLM crowds chanting, 'Pigs in a blanket, Fry'em up like bacon' or "'hat do we want-dead cops. When do we want it -Now'"?
Seems like you came here.
Even though I doubt you saw it first hand, you have  a right to your opinion, even where it may (or may not) be based on anything substantive.
To paraphrase Zero Mostel, "We of the Libertarian Center don't Blacklist."
Thomas Napers Added Sep 28, 2017 - 1:31am
“But Trump's opining may make it more of a First Amendment issue.”
I couldn’t disagree more.  According to the First Amendment, the president is free to say whatever he likes.  However, according to the written contract the players signed, they have very limited rights while working for the NFL.  For example, they have to tuck in their shirt and they can’t celebrate too much after doing something really good in a game.   It could also be argued that kneeling for the National Anthem is evidence of conduct unbecoming to the league, giving the league the right to fire them.  It’s all in the contract.    
wsucram15 Added Sep 28, 2017 - 6:16am
Good comment Shane, duly noted by myself.  It was a unity thing in opposition of police violence.
John you are right..most states are "at will."  It depends on why you were fired and accused violations.  I can only tell you my experiences with the law from both the legal and HR perspective of a company.
You can fire an employee for any reason you wish..it is true, with a contract..you cannot..unless you pay. OK?  It had to be in the manual via the state to void contract.   I went to school for employment law, please......why are men so demeaning to women?
I can also tell you this, from my office I never once paid unemployment to an employee. If they were fired, there was proper procedure followed.  At will, sometimes costs money, I wasnt about spending money.  My company supervisors made me aware, warnings were issued via the handbook procedures and come step three (with few exceptions) out the door you went.   
Again..if its not in their NFL contract, which it obviously is not..they are golden.  Also the owners stood there with them and had the HIGHEST ratings in two years!
Give it a rest...burn those jerseys to death.  Burn your tickets..and your licenses.  If you dont renew they will resell them and people that LIKE FOOTBALL will go see the teams play.
ITs about police brutality...not the flag.  Come on..dont be so silly.
john guzlowski Added Sep 28, 2017 - 9:26am
America would be a better place if every one of us everyday protested something.
You hate what you see?
Stand up and protest.
dont wimp out and go back to watching TV.
opher goodwin Added Sep 28, 2017 - 12:41pm
John - protest is healthy - violence isn't.
John Minehan Added Sep 28, 2017 - 4:53pm
I'll be a little less demanding; caring enough to be informed (or even aware) is a good start.
John Minehan Added Sep 28, 2017 - 5:07pm
Where does a sitting President's opinion become, not an opinion, but pressure?
Zachery d Taylor Added Sep 29, 2017 - 2:15pm
I'm not sure we're getting the correct story about Michael Brown or many other people shot by police.
However plenty of these shootings are clearly wrong and more important there are many inequalities that take place before it escalates to a confrontation that leads to shootings.
There could be much more to improve the education system and provide economic opportunities in abandoned ghettos but it isn't even being discussed. 
More importantly all this outrage over peaceful protest without discussing the contributing causes of violence will indicate to troubled people that the government isn't trying to solve these problems. 
If they won't tolerate violent protest peaceful protest or solve the problems it is a recipe for disaster, which is what Trump is doing!
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 29, 2017 - 4:00pm
 Why are we getting a knee from the NFL?  What those black foot ball players are protesting is: “[T]he welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim
Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family,” Williams [George Mason economist and author of “Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?”] said. “That is, today, just slightly over 30 percent of black kids live in two parent families. Historically, from 1870s on up to about 1940s, and depending on the city, 75 to 90 percent of black kids lived in two parent families. Illegitimacy rate is 70 percent among blacks where that is unprecedented in our history.”
NFL players were taught by the perpetrator an alternate reality and not the reality presented by Walter Williams. 
Actual shooting by police of whites is higher then shooting of blacks, but shooting of black by blacks is an order of magnitude higher.  Not protesting that.   Police are where the crime is so black neighborhoods have more police presence so more black men are stopped then white men.  Police are just as worried about being shot by a white man as a black man.  They are treated the same, as potential criminals.  Now the street training comes into play.  Black men live with more criminals around them so they present more criminal like moves, street moves.  Thus it takes longer for the policeman to feel secure. 
NFL players when murders and crime decrease in black neighborhoods you will see less police and be stopped less.  You own that problem.  You have to solve it. 
John Minehan Added Sep 29, 2017 - 4:11pm
"I don't know hat the law says but you can't contract in breach of, or to opt out of, a law."
Not prospectively.
Which is to say you can't knowingly agree to a breach of law.
Further, you generally don't know in advance that something is going  to be a 1st Amendment Question and, often, you don't know idf something will be found to violate Federal (or state) Civil Rights or Human Rights Law.  
Thomas Sutrina Added Sep 29, 2017 - 8:47pm
In the discussion of NFL on their knee (which stopped because customers response).  Fox News presented the police video of an incident in Las Vegas.  "Michael Bennett says he had a guns drawn on him by Las Vegas police for 'nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.'"  The Fox reporter said the police were called for a 911 call saying a gunman was in the casino.  The video shows Michael running away from the police.  the reporter said the police the people running to stop.  Michael kept running.  So they show him being hand cuffed and put into a police car.  No gun was seen in any of the body cam shown.   
In response to a man with a gun call, the police would have their guns drawn.  This is protocol.   Michael did not have a gun, but the police  could only determine this after they caught up with him and saw all sides of him.   Only then would they put there guns away to hand cuff him.  A gunman could have thrown the gun away while running away. 
Who is responsible for his decisions? 
My father in his twenties matched the description of a criminal and found himself man handled by police until they found out he was not armed.  He was after the third time taken down to the station handed a letter to present to police after they checked for a weapon.
John Minehan Added Sep 30, 2017 - 6:46am
Actually, what happened to Eric Garner is another issue altogether.
Garner was a guy who had an established (non-legal) business of  selling loose cigarettes ("looseys") on the street so that people could beat the NYS and NYC taxes on tobacco products.  He was not a threat to anyone.  It would have been quite easy to have given him an appearance ticket. 
Apparently, he was apprehended by  cops under the supervision of a supervisor (a "Boss" in NYPD terms). 
While there was no CRIMINAL WRONG DOING FOUND, I have no idea what administrative sanction may have been imposed on the officers involved.  
John Minehan Added Sep 30, 2017 - 6:51am
The Garner case is still being looked at by the Federal Department of Justice to see if Mr. Garner's civil rights were violated, a civil matter as opposed to a criminal one..
John Minehan Added Sep 30, 2017 - 9:38am
Part of the problem here is that imposing order is seen as an end in itself.
Micahel Dolan Added Sep 30, 2017 - 11:25am
Politicians and the Leftist Media are hell-bent to solidate their power by pitting class against class, conservative against liberal, have not's against haves, woman against men, children against parents. They are trying to divide rather than unite.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Sep 30, 2017 - 12:29pm
Part of the problem here is that imposing order is seen as an end in itself.
Damn Skippy.
Please do one of your learned articles on that premise.
Stone-Eater Added Sep 30, 2017 - 12:44pm
Wow. I hope the US gets someday back to a "normal" society. Good luck. From afar it looks that a) people are completely left in the fog and b) the state and the justice is more restrictive than anywhere else in the Western world.
John Minehan Added Oct 1, 2017 - 4:39pm
"Please do one of your learned articles on that premise."
Kind of what I thought I was doing with this.  I probablyy buried the lead . . . . 
John Minehan Added Oct 2, 2017 - 2:46pm
I had that conversation with the retired Police Lieutenant in 1995 or 1996.  That was about 13 or 14 years after the Broken Windows article appeared in The Atlantic.
About 1993, Bill Bratton became NYC Police Commissioner.  Starting in 1990, Bratton had been the head of the Transit Police in NYC.  In each case, Bratton had implemented a "Broken Windows" approach.
These approaches may or may not have had success, but the problem remained what the retired Police Lieutenant had talked about.  How does this not feel like  you are being occupied, how do you not feel like those people on the Fall Road?
Further, how do you justify restricting the liberty of those who probably have less property to  reassure those who have more property?
John Minehan Added Oct 2, 2017 - 3:53pm
How does an intrusive police presence, largely (or circa 1969 in that particular large city in Upstate New York, exclusively) composed of people of another race than the residents of a poor neighborhood not look and feel like an occupation?
More importantly, how does it have legitimacy?
"Legitimacy" is a major issue for people like John Robb, Joshua Cooper Ramo and John McCormack and the Transpartisans.  It is the real issue that drives a lot of memes like a coming "civil war."
One source of legitimacy, seen a great deal in NYC, is having officers who reflect the character of the places they police, so that law abiding people can have someone they can relate to and feel comfortable in reporting crimes to.  As the career of  Joseph "Joe" Petrosino in the NYPD, this is neither novel nor tenuous.
Dale Murrish Added Oct 2, 2017 - 9:11pm
Thoughtful article, John. Didn't read many of the comments, but you have an interesting perspective on police attitudes from Northern Ireland and the latest protests in the NFL.
My view is that the NFL players are trampling on the flag - and on the memory of those veterans (many of them black) who fought and died for their freedom to protest. I hope that the protests will die down sooner rather than later. 
opher goodwin Added Oct 3, 2017 - 6:40pm
How many black men have to be choked or shot for no reason before the perpetrators are brought to justice?
It's racism and it stinks. The videos on You Tube speak volumes. Taking a knee is better than taking up a gun.