Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: Players Have a ‘Right to Protest During the Anthem’

Anthem Protests
The Associated Press

The NFL has a entered a summary judgment to try and get Colin Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the league, thrown out of court.

As Pro Football Talk reports, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith confirms that arbitrator Stephen Burbank “has taken the matter under advisement.”

However, buried deep within paragraph five of Mike Florio’s piece about the NFL’s summary judgment, is a very curious claim about the rights of NFL anthem protesters.

After citing the the contention of Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who claims that the anthem issue can’t be fully resolved without first addressing the league’s alleged blackballing of Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, Florio makes this claim:

As Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills recently suggested, it’s hard to resolve the issue over the anthem with Kaepernick and Reid still shunned for their unique roles as leaders of the movement that made players aware of their right to protest during the anthem.

This is absolutely false. There is no recognized or codified right for NFL players to protest during the playing of the national anthem. This right does not appear anywhere in the NFL’s rules or guidelines. If it did, the NFL could not have acted so unilaterally in changing the anthem policy in May.

Claiming that the spirit of the law suggests that players should have the ability to protest, can be stated as a matter of opinion. But to say that such a right actually exists, is completely wrong.

Not to mention the fact that just intuitively, it would make no sense for the league to have a right to protest during the anthem. The NFL penalizes players for writing messages on their shoes. Even messages that have nothing to do with politics. How could the league maintain a right to protest during the anthem, while simultaneously punishing players for writing words on their shoes?

Florio’s readers would have been well-served if he had made a distinction between his opinion, or the way he thinks ought to be, and what the rules actually say.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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