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Goodell supports players who speak out on political issues

Roger Goodell,  Osi Umenyiora AP

Last week, a Maryland politician called for the Ravens to muzzle linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo’s support of gay marriage.  On Wednesday, the guy who runs the sport said that players never will be asked to keep quiet about their beliefs.

“I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important,” Goodell said Wednesday, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  “They speak as individuals, and that’s an important part of democracy.”

At a time when so many players and fans look for any reason to complain about the Commissioner (unless and until they meet him, and then it’s all smiles and handshakes), he deserves praise for his position.

He’s gotten it from Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who spoke out loudly (and profanely) in support of Ayanbadejo last week.

“I think it’s great that Commissioner Goodell is backing our right to speak out on issues that are important to us (and thank you for not fining me for the whiteboard stuff, and the ref stuff, and the bounty stuff, and anything else I did),” Kluwe said in an email to the Pioneer Press.  “In my eyes, one of the things that makes the NFL so great is that it’s inclusive rather than exclusive.  No matter your race, creed, religion, and hopefully soon your sexuality, the main question is ‘Can you play on Sunday?’  Gay players can play just as well as anyone else.”

And it’s not just the Commissioner who is encouraging people to speak out.  “I was not silenced,” Ayanbadejo told the Pioneer Press.  “In fact, what happened instead was pretty amazing — thousands of people joined me and spoke out in support of marriage equality.  I even received messages from Steelers fans!  Instead of being silenced, my team and my league stood with me in support.”

That’s the most important point here.  Regardless of our beliefs, we all have a right to express them.  While certain topics could jeopardize a player’s endorsement deals (which necessarily are tied to behaviors that make a player more and/or less popular), it never should jeopardize in any way a person’s NFL employment.

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44 Responses to “Goodell supports players who speak out on political issues”
  1. sun602 says: Sep 13, 2012 10:59 AM

    This is awesome.

  2. steeler1nation says: Sep 13, 2012 11:00 AM

    * except if they’re in support of conservatives

    Goodell is a power-hungry libutard, he exposed this when he opposed Rush Limbaugh trying to fairly buy the St. Louis Rams. That was disgusting by Goodell, and others who opposed this free market move. Discriminating against somebody because you don’t agree with their politics. What is this — Commy China?

  3. mtheparrothead says: Sep 13, 2012 11:04 AM

    But don’t speak out against the league right roger? Free speech is free speech. Can’t have it middle of the line.

  4. humb0lt says: Sep 13, 2012 11:05 AM

    Glad to hear Goodell say he supports civil rights. I was beginning to wonder after his zeal for suspending players without any semblance of due process.

    Brendan Ayanbadejo has earned my extreme respect.

  5. andypro18 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:06 AM

    Uh yea, not buying it.

    I’m guessing that Goodell’s support wouldn’t have been the same if a player would have come out against gay marriage.

    People love to tout free speech when it’s politically correct, like support of gay marriage, but run away when it’s not pc. I suspect the NFL and Goodell are no different in that respect.

  6. houseofbacon says: Sep 13, 2012 11:08 AM

    This is good, this is the Commissioner doing something right.

  7. bobbyhoying says: Sep 13, 2012 11:10 AM

    Everyone is entitled to free speech in America. It doesn’t matter who they are or what their opinion is. Just remember that the next time Tim Tebow makes a statement liberals don’t like.

  8. redskinpotatoes says: Sep 13, 2012 11:10 AM

    Goodell added, “I’m just happy that I’m not being portrayed as the bad guy for once….Dang, this puppy blood tastes good.”

    In all seriousness though, it’s not too surprising that the league would support their own players’ rights to free speech. Especially regarding something unrelated to football.

  9. beastup22 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:17 AM

    Why is the punter always talking?

  10. geniusfan says: Sep 13, 2012 11:19 AM

    “At a time when so many players and fans look for any reason to complain about the Commissioner (unless and until they meet him, and then it’s all smiles and handshakes), he deserves praise for his position.”

    This is 100 percent fact. Some people always talk tough behind a keyboard (whether you’re a fan or a reporter) but when you confronted face to face it’s usually a different story.

    I think Goodell has done a good job and this is another feather in his cap. He’s encouraged players to do the right things, be accountable, and grateful that they can participate in the NFL. People just want to bash on him because that’s the culture nowadays. Cynical, wisecracking, complaining from people who couldn’t even imagine how hard it is to be at the top of a professional sports league.

  11. myspaceyourface says: Sep 13, 2012 11:30 AM

    For a liberal, it’s only free speech if you agree with their point of view.

    Think about this:
    1. President Obama and others say we shouldn’t racially profile someone. That it is wrong to do so.

    2. President Obama and others say we should speak with political correctness towards people and not offend them if they are gay, black, illegal, etc. . .

    3. How can we properly communicate with someone without offending them (see point 2) If we don’t first look at them and make a judgement about them (see point 1)?

    Seems like an impossibility.

  12. nyyjetsknicks says: Sep 13, 2012 11:30 AM

    steeler1nation says:
    Sep 13, 2012 11:00 AM
    * except if they’re in support of conservatives

    Goodell is a power-hungry libutard, he exposed this when he opposed Rush Limbaugh trying to fairly buy the St. Louis Rams. That was disgusting by Goodell, and others who opposed this free market move. Discriminating against somebody because you don’t agree with their politics. What is this — Commy China?

    _____________________________

    Did Goodell tell Tebow to shut up about his religion? You can’t see the difference for players speaking their minds and having some pill popping, blowhard, who only wants to create controversy as a part owner?

  13. SkeletalDrawing says: Sep 13, 2012 11:33 AM

    @bobbyhoying -

    Is it fun to play the victim? Who has ever suggested that Tebow should be punished by the league for what he says? Saying we don’t want to hear him go on and on is in no way the same as endorsing the idea of the league (or anyone else) curbing Tebow’s right to say what he wants – but we also have the right to point out when he sounds like a broken record.

  14. bingocostello says: Sep 13, 2012 11:34 AM

    Especially when they liberal left wing opinions!! How is the Rush Limbaugh application for ownership going you hypocrit?

  15. dabears7190 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:39 AM

    When I’m torn on which candidate I should vote for, I turn to young 20 something, millionaire athletes who like to talk a lot.

    Who could possibly have their finger on the pulse of America more than Maurice Jones-Drew?

  16. kabasaman says: Sep 13, 2012 11:44 AM

    But don’t you dare critisize the officials. After all, its all about player saftey and league integrity…. Yea right..

  17. pftwstbshmc says: Sep 13, 2012 11:44 AM

    Yeah, but watch what happens with that “freedom of speech” when a player voices his opinion about a call an official made or a decision that Roger made.

    Then it will be “open your wallet”….

    This guy has no clue what “freedom of speech” means….

  18. Amadeus says: Sep 13, 2012 11:45 AM

    Time for the Ravens to break out those pink uniforms.

  19. thatyankeedude says: Sep 13, 2012 11:46 AM

    Well I’m glad the players got the OK from the almighty GODell. This dude is an idiot. He is supporting them in something they already have and that is free speech. Doesn’t mean I like what the players say sometimes but they do have a right to say it so getting support from this moron means nothing.

  20. amlowlife says: Sep 13, 2012 11:49 AM

    Can’t wait to see some NFLer come up with a Tebow-like pose after a play and call it a tribute to atheism. That oughta cause a firestorm…

  21. dryzzt23 says: Sep 13, 2012 11:58 AM

    First off Mr. Goodell, we are NOT a democracy. The United States was established per the Constitution as a REPUBLIC:

    The difference between Democracy and Republic:
    Democracy and Republic are two forms of government which are distinguished by their treatment of the Minority, and the Individual, by the Majority.

    In a Democracy aka “mob rule”, the Majority has unlimited power over the Minority. This system of government does not provide a legal safeguard of the rights of the Individual and the Minority. It has been referred to as “Majority over Man”.

    In a Republic, the Majority is Limited and constrained by a written Constitution which protects the rights of the Individual and the Minority. The purpose of a Republic form of government is to control the Majority and to protect the God-given, inalienable rights and liberty of the Individual.

    I just hope that no player or NFL execs keep any conservative players from voicing their political opinion. I say this b/c 75% of the player are black and are probably democrats and would label as a “racist” any conservative player who dares to speak his mind.

  22. cuda1234 says: Sep 13, 2012 12:06 PM

    That would make Goodell more open-minded and tolerant than NBC and this site which routinely deletes posts that don’t support its politics. Good for Roger.

    Countdown to deletion of this post: 3, 2, 1….

  23. stealersfannot says: Sep 13, 2012 12:10 PM

    You guys are right, Goodell and this league are a bunch of hypocrites. Remember when before even being drafted Tim Tebow appeared with his mother in a pro-life commercial, and how the league fined him and banned him for stating his righteous Christian beliefs? Remember how the league fined Reggie White for preaching for Billy Graham? Remember when they suspended Ray Lewis for talking Jesus, or Polamalu for signaling the cross a hundred times on a nationally televised game?

    What’s that? No one did anything to them? Right.

    While I guarantee you that many a fan don’t like Tebow’s “aww shucks” evangelism, I have yet to see any fans, much less this league, propose that his right to speak his mind and heart be violated.

  24. whoisedgy says: Sep 13, 2012 12:26 PM

    @steelers1nation…

    I think you are correct. Political speech is welcome only if it fits the politically correct profile. In today’s society, anything not politically correct is insensitive and biased (and often considered racist). To the point that someone made about Tebow not being muzzled, he was simply expressing his faith. That is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Too many people improperly think that religious expression equals political viewpoint.

  25. sj39 says: Sep 13, 2012 12:28 PM

    Thumbs down it all you want but Rush Limbaugh was denied a chanch at ownership because of his politics. And as others have pointed out, liberals are only for free speech that they agree with. Who knew so many sissy libs like football?

  26. whateverhommie says: Sep 13, 2012 12:28 PM

    Personally, I don’t want to hear about politics (except when it comes to a new stadium build), when it comes to sports. I watch sports as a release from “the real world”.

    For 3+ hours on a given day, I can forget about bills, health, politics, wars, nagging girlfriend etc. I want to act irrational, engage in silly stupid superstitious rituals, have a drink or three, enjoy the company of friends, and yell at inanimate objects WITHOUT some athlete or team representative telling me what their political views are.

    The pure beauty of sports can only TRULY be observed, enjoyed, and celebrated in the absence of all politics.

  27. eriktheliberal says: Sep 13, 2012 12:37 PM

    @steeler1nation:

    For your information, Roger Goodell is a Republican. While I disagree with his hardline stance against the players union last year (he was more of a cheerleader for the owners than an independent voice for the NFL) and his similar stance against the unionized officials this year, I will applaud him on this. Players should be allowed to state their political views without fear of reprisal – regardless of what those political views are.

    For the record, I am a liberal Democrat, and a proud one at that. And, while I think that Paul Tagliabue was a far better Commissioner than Goodell, I respect his defense of free political speech, regardless of whether that political speech is liberal, moderate, conservative, or libertarian.

  28. FoozieGrooler says: Sep 13, 2012 12:38 PM

    You can be sure there’s more to this than what he says.

    Goodell doesn’t have reasons for what he does, he has motives.

  29. andypro18 says: Sep 13, 2012 12:40 PM

    What we need to really find out if the NFL and Goodell are really about free speech, or if he’s just taking this opportunity to jump on a view that’s currently politically correct.

    What we need is a test case, and I think I’ve found a good one:

    In a few weeks, when all the teams are forced to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness, I want one player to stand up and refuse to wear pink because he says he can’t support breast cancer awareness because those organizations behind the awareness campaign suppress the scientific studies that link abortions to breast cancer.

    The player could stand up and publicly say: “I support TRUE breast cancer awareness, and not telling women that abortions may lead to an increased risk is not helping women at all”

    I’d LOVE to see that. It would be a hoot. Oh, and best of all, it would tell us where the NFL really stood on the free speech issue.

  30. nbcruinedpft says: Sep 13, 2012 1:03 PM

    It’s not the RELIGIOUS conservativism, neccesarily, that Goodell and the league (and NBC, and this site) frown upon, or mock, or omit as a perspective, or hit with snide, side-swiping innuendo, or censor outright, it’s the POLITICAL conservativism.

    (i.e. if it bends lefty and supports the Owebama Regime and or that agenda, if it’s PC, then it’s all A-Okay…but otherwise, it’s fair game for mockery, ridicule, condescension, or censoring)

  31. tundey says: Sep 13, 2012 1:08 PM

    Steelers fans are loud, uncouth and obnoxious…but kudos to them for supporting a Raven.

  32. jimmylions says: Sep 13, 2012 1:11 PM

    Chris Kluwe rocks! When he wrote that letter, he knew there were possible consequences from the league (because of his language choices). At the same time, he knew it had to be said that way to pump up the volume. He did what he thought was the right thing to do. Bravo!

    I don’t know if it’s true, the legendary Packer players sometimes embelish stories a bit, but supposedly Lombardi told his players that his team had a no-bigotry policy. He specifically told players there would be no tolerance for harassment based on skin color, no tolerance for
    harassment of the gay players. (I think it was Fuzzy Thurston who talked about this)

    As for the people saying Rush is a victim (ha!), Goodell wasn’t the only one who didn’t want Rush to be one of the NFL owners. Most of the other owners also felt that way. And it wasn’t because Rush is a right-winger. Virtually all of the owners are right-wingers. Follow the money and that will tell you their politics.

    What Rush does (speaking hatefully to provoke reactions) is good for ratings for his syndicated radio show, but is bad for a national brand appealing to a broad audience (like the NFL). From a business perspective, Rush alienating fans provides zero benefit to the NFL brand. Being associated with Rush’s hate speech would have been bad for business.

    As for Tebow and Christian players being victims … really? Are you kidding me? We see prayer circles on the field all the time. If you drank a shot every time a player prays in an NFL game, you wouldn’t make it to the 4th quarter.

  33. sparky151 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:14 PM

    Goodell doesn’t really support free speech. Does anyone think the league will now refrain from disciplining players, coaches or owners for remarks about the officials or other league related topics? That’s where free speech would matter the most. Athletes are celebrities and there’s no shortage of celebrities opining on issues of the day.

    Lost in all this is that Rev Burns was speaking up for his constituents. They are low income African-Americans whose voices are not usually heard in the media. In fact, because the media consensus is pro gay marriage, they are in effect being told to shut up.

  34. ace8842 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:29 PM

    I hope those who speak out against gay marriage are treated the same who have spoken out for it. There seems to always be a double standard.

  35. tinbender2000 says: Sep 13, 2012 1:29 PM

    Isn’t it the owners who decide who gets into their club? Besides Goodell being a republican I think you’ll find most of the billionaire owners are as well. They aren’t billionaires because they’re stupid, and that’s why they don’t want someone as controversial as Limbaugh having anything to do with owning a team, R or D. And take the “libutard” crap and go over to one of the political blogs where it’s O.K. to make yourself look like a 2 year old fool.

  36. metrocritical says: Sep 13, 2012 1:36 PM

    For dryzzt23, thanks for the political science lesson but what has that got to do with free speech in this context? As you and others may or may not comprehend, first amendments rights are about the government’s ability to control speech and has no application in the private sector. A company, organization or employer can impose a separate set of internal rules and not run afoul of first amendment concerns. A basic understanding of this concept would knock out half of these posts.

  37. Slackmo says: Sep 13, 2012 2:00 PM

    Politically correct speech = good

    Politically incorrect speech = fines

  38. chi3454 says: Sep 13, 2012 2:13 PM

    @sparky151 – How is Goodell limiting what players say about the league the same thing? You bad mouth your employer to everyone where you can see it and see how long you are still employed. The league legally has the right to fine their employees for openly talking bad about their business to the media, for most of us we would be searching for a new job.

    No matter your opinion on whether goodell fining his players is fair, lets not lump him fining players for complaints about the refs and him allowing the players to speak openly about their political and religious beliefs like they are the same thing

  39. granadafan says: Sep 13, 2012 2:21 PM

    Kudos to Goodell for protecting his players over free speech. People can criticize the players over what they say and as the Conservatives did with their far right wing talk shows did when players came out in support of equality and being anti intolerant. Rush was all over the airwaves blasting the Ravens player. To the ignorant, Goodell has NOT muzzled Tebow for his outspoken evangelical beliefs. That said, for a business, it’s best not to delve into hot political issues lest you offend people. Michael Jordan once said he never got into politics because Republicans and Democrats both buy shoes.

  40. grudenthediva says: Sep 13, 2012 2:27 PM

    “For a liberal, it’s only free speech if you agree with their point of view. ”

    Tell that to all the pantywaists getting sandy crotches because some people dared to say they would no longer go to Chick Fil A. “OH NOES, the libruls are doing the same thing we said we’d do when we suggested boycotts of them queer lovin’ Oreo cookies!!”

    When I see people like Chris Kluwe get attacked for what he said, all while his teammate Big Sack Mullet can run his mouth all he wants and get cheered, it only makes you look stupider.

    Then again, you are the types who want to silence people like George Clooney and those who support the Democrats, claiming that all celebrities are idiots, then you go and put senile Dirty Harry on national television to make your campaign look even more haphazard and ridiculous.

  41. mavajo says: Sep 13, 2012 3:17 PM

    I’m convinced that the majority of Americans have no idea what “freedom of speech” actually means.

    Protip: Goodell fining a player for criticizing an official has nothing to do with “freedom of speech.”

    If you didn’t already know that, then you don’t know enough about “freedom of speech” to ever invoke it. Just shaddup. And no, me telling you to shaddup is not a violation of your freedom of speech, either.

  42. bigblue00 says: Sep 13, 2012 5:24 PM

    What is happening to the NFL???

  43. johnnytarr says: Sep 15, 2012 11:26 AM

    andypro18 says:
    Sep 13, 2012 12:40 PM
    What we need to really find out if the NFL and Goodell are really about free speech, or if he’s just taking this opportunity to jump on a view that’s currently politically correct.

    What we need is a test case, and I think I’ve found a good one:

    In a few weeks, when all the teams are forced to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness, I want one player to stand up and refuse to wear pink because he says he can’t support breast cancer awareness because those organizations behind the awareness campaign suppress the scientific studies that link abortions to breast cancer.

    The player could stand up and publicly say: “I support TRUE breast cancer awareness, and not telling women that abortions may lead to an increased risk is not helping women at all”

    I’d LOVE to see that. It would be a hoot. Oh, and best of all, it would tell us where the NFL really stood on the free speech issue.

    A+

  44. sadviking says: Sep 16, 2012 3:03 AM

    People can rag on Kluwe for “only being a punter,” or say that he shouldn’t be able to tell us what to think because he is “only” an NFL player, but I think what he wrote was probably one of the best letters I have ever read.

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