Can NFL teams make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests?

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Given the recent uptick in news regarding the anthem controversy, it’s time to address some of the fundamental questions relating to the situation.

The goal of this article is to take a fairly complicated and polarizing societal question and analyze it, objectively and thoroughly, from the perspective of labor and employment law. (For those wondering why they’d be inclined to read a legal analysis from some Internet hack who writes about football, that’s a very fair question. I practiced law for 18 years, specializing over the final 14 or so in matters of labor and employment law, both from the employer’s perspective and from the employee’s perspective.)

The first challenge for anyone considering this issue as a matter of labor and employment is far easier said than done: You need to set aside whatever your personal beliefs may be regarding NFL players protesting during the national anthem. Whether you like it, whether you hate it, or whether you land somewhere in between, if you forget your own feelings on the issue, you’ll be able to better understand the legal issues relevant to the situation.

Along these same lines, you need to forget about the question of whether anthem protests are “bad for business.” (Some presume that the protests have hurt the NFL’s business; the evidence, however, is inconclusive. Yes, TV ratings are down, but not as far down as TV ratings generally. Also, revenues — and in turn the salary cap — continue to rise. For the fifth straight year, the salary cap has increased by more than $10 million per team.)

Actually, let’s assume that the NFL’s teams subjectively have concluded that anthem protests are indeed “bad for business,” inconclusive evidence of a negative impact notwithstanding. If that’s the case, the question becomes whether the NFL can make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests that are determined to be “bad for business” under the principles that apply to the employment relationship between NFL teams and NFL players.

For any issue arising under the relationship between NFL teams and NFL players, the question begins with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association says nothing about the national anthem. The rule regarding the anthem appears in the NFL’s game operations manual, which provides in pertinent part as follows: “The national anthem must be played before every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the national anthem. During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

This rule, adopted in 2009 as part of the league’s decision to move the players from the locker room to the sideline during the national anthem, was drafted by the NFL. By using “must” in connection with the playing of the anthem and the players’ presence on the sideline but the non-mandatory term “should” when referring to standing during the anthem, the NFL created a loophole in the policy, making it different from the NBA rule that mandates standing: Players must be on the sideline for the anthem, and players should (not must) stand.

When the anthem controversy first emerged in August 2016, the NFL could have quickly revised the language of the rule, or the NFL could have taken the position that “should” as a practical matter means “must” within the broader context of the rule. After all, the league has brought them out of the locker room not to protest during the playing of the national anthem but to be props in the broader effort to wrap The Shield (which looks a lot like the flag) in the flag.

The fact that the rule didn’t appear in the CBA (which is the product of comprehensive collective bargaining between the NFL and NFL Players Association regarding the terms of employment) most likely would have given the league the ability to unilaterally change the rule. In other words, the league possibly could have simply changed the rule on the spot, without talking to or bargaining with the union.

But that’s not what the league did. The NFL’s first comment on the matter was this: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

That was the moment the NFL confirmed that players have permission to sit, kneel, whatever during the anthem. And that was the moment that it became inappropriate to make hiring and firing decisions based on whether a player chooses to exercise the league-given right to not stand. After all, what good is any right in employment if exercising that right will get you fired?

When the anthem controversy reached new heights in September 2017, fueled by an attack on the NFL and protesting players by the President, the league did not change the rule. Instead, the league reiterated the fact that players have the right to protest, if they choose to do so.

“During this past season, we received assurances from both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the Management Council, John Mara, that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected,” the union said in a statement issued last month, after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said that he would prohibit kneeling (and then backtracked). “We are glad that both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have clarified their positions to be consistent with what was confirmed with our union leadership, and we expect all other NFL teams to maintain the same commitment to protecting those rights.” (The NFL has at no time disputed the notion that Goodell and Mara provided assurances that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected.)

This is the most important point to keep in mind when addressing whether the NFL may make hiring and firing decisions based on a player’s inclination to participate in anthem protests: The NFL created the right to protest in 2009, the NFL confirmed the right to protest in 2016 and the NFL reiterated the right to protest in 2017.

Protecting the rights of a player to protest means so much more than allowing players who are currently employed by a team to protest. It also includes prohibiting activities that would tend to discourage a player from exercising his right to protest. Cutting a player for protesting is the most obvious contradiction of a player’s right to protest. Not hiring a player who intends to protest is no different than that.

These realities remain true even under the assumption that anthem protests are bad for business. If anthem protests are truly bad for business, the league knew or should have known that anthem protests would be bad for business in August 2016, when the NFL confirmed that players have the right to not stand during the anthem. And if at some point after confirming in August 2016 that players have a right protest the league realized that it’s bad for business and something should be done about it, the NFL should have changed its rule.

That’s where traditional principles of labor law becomes relevant to the situation. Although the league may have been able to unilaterally change the anthem policy in the early days of the controversy, the league’s express confirmation of the players’ right to protest in August 2016, the reiteration of that endorsement in 2017, and the magnitude of the issue arguably has transformed this specific term of employment into what the law regards as a mandatory subject of bargaining. This means that, if the policy has morphed into a mandatory subject of bargaining, the league can’t change the policy without engaging in the traditional back-and-forth and give-and-take with the union.

The NFL and NFLPA undoubtedly would disagree on whether changing the anthem policy requires bargaining. The NFL and the NFLPA also would likely disagree on whether hiring and firing decisions can be made based on whether a player has exercised or has stated an intention to exercise his league-given right to protest. At some point, that issue may be hashed out in a legal proceeding.

The league has declined in the past to comment on whether players can be disciplined by individual teams for declining to stand, brushing such questions off as “hypothetical.” Amid mounting examples of teams asking prospective employees questions about their plans to protest, the NFL tells PFT that its teams are allowed to pose such questions.

The NFLPA declined comment on question prospective employees can be asked about kneeling during the anthem. However, a source with knowledge of the union’s analysis of these issues tells PFT that the union believes such questions cannot be posed to players.

The argument against asking those questions is simple. Since the league has given, confirmed, and reiterated the right to protest during the national anthem, players should not be penalized for exercising or stating an intent to exercise those rights. Questions aimed at determining whether a player would exercise those rights therefore become evidence of an intention to make employment decisions based on whether a player will exercise a right that the NFL has given to all players.

For example, employees have a right to complain about unsafe working conditions to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. This means that hiring or firing decisions can’t be made based on past OSHA complaints or a propensity/intention to make future OSHA complaints. This also means that, during a job interview, the owner of the business can’t ask, “If you see an unsafe working condition, will you promise not to file a safety complaint with OSHA?” It also means that, on the eve of a job interview, an employee can’t be asked, “Will you commit to never exercising your right to make a safety complaint with OSHA? Before answering, please be aware that if you won’t make this commitment, you won’t be interviewed.”)

Yes, there’s a HUGE difference between employees making a complaint about workplace safety and football players protesting during the national anthem. But here’s the common thread: The federal government gave American workers the right to make safety complaints with OSHA, and the NFL gave players the right to protest during the national anthem.

This entire issue exists because the NFL deliberately or accidentally used “should” instead of “must” when writing the anthem policy nearly a decade ago, because the league confirmed that standing isn’t mandatory in August 2016 after Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem, and because the league reiterated to the NFLPA in 2017 that players have the right to protest.

The right to protest given, confirmed, and reiterated by the NFL becomes hollow and meaningless if teams can cut or not sign players who have protested or who will potentially protest in the future. Posing questions to players about their intention to protest becomes direct evidence of an intent to discriminate against players based on the exercise of a right given by the NFL, confirmed by the NFL, and reiterated by the NFL.

Basically, allowing teams to hire and fire based on whether a player has protested or will protest represents a de facto revision to the anthem policy, making standing mandatory without actually changing the key word in the policy from “should” to “must.” That amounts to an effort to skirt the question of whether bargaining with the union must occur before the anthem policy is changed. And that’s likely why the NFL, realizing that it’s too late to unilaterally change the policy, has decided to look the other way as owners and teams brazenly use a player’s willingness to exercise a right given, confirmed, and created by the NFL against that player.

If it truly is “bad for business” when players kneel during the anthem, it was horrendous for business when the NFL created the right to protest during the anthem in 2009, when the NFL confirmed the right to protest during the anthem in August 2016, and when the NFL reiterated the right to protest during the anthem in 2017. That’s why the questions posed to Eric Reid by the Bengals and the ultimatum given to Colin Kaepernick by the Seahawks are more than simply a P.R. problem. They are a legal problem, one that eventually could spark separate grievance proceedings against the league.

Regardless of whether it’s “bad for business” when players protest during the anthem, the NFL gave them that right, the NFL confirmed that right, and the NFL has reiterated the confirmation of that right. Making employment decisions based on the exercise of that right makes that right meaningless, which makes it flat-out wrong to consider past protests or plans to protest in the future when deciding whether to sign a player.

195 responses to “Can NFL teams make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests?

  1. If team policy says stand during the anthem and you sit, you can get fired. If I’m on the clock at my job and I don’t do what my job says to do, I go to the unemployment line. It’s simple, quit making a fuss over nothing.

  2. So many paragraphs for such an easy answer: Yes. You can write a million more paragraphs and the answer is still yes. Respect the flag or don’t play. Easy.

  3. These players are representatives for the teams that they play on. The owners have the right to hire and fire players based on what they believe is good for their business.

    The only time it becomes an issue, is if the owners are actually conspiring against Kaepernick.

    For What its worth, I do believe that Kaep is better than most backups, and some starters.

  4. This topic keeps getting repeated over & over again here. A employer has every right to hire/fire an employee based on their actions at the workplace, if that action is detrimental to the work environment or affects their bottom line. Your workplace is not a place for a protest. The entire problem with the player protest is the VENUE, not the message.

  5. Of course they can, what is this world coming to? Players are allowed to exercise their right to free speech and potential employers can set team rules and if the players violates them their contract can be terminated. This is ridiculous. Kap has zero interest in playing football, he’d rather sue the NFL and try to get money he didnt earn so he can sit on his butt and play the role of martyr the rest of his life

  6. Having a view on a social issue is NOT protected speech. As long as the team doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sex, creed, religion etc, etc….

  7. It’s not “Hiring and Firing.”

    It is contracting or not contracting. Totally different than typical corporate-HR-world. Different rules apply.

  8. Private businesses can do whatever they want, unless they are violating the law (i.e. discriminating). The players are not being discriminated against.

    I could legally protest anything at my job. My job could legally fire me for doing so–especially if they have any reason to believe it is bad for business.

  9. So Goodell basically backed the owners into a corner in 2016 and again in 2017. Now I know why they pay him 25M or whatever ridiculous amount they pay him.

  10. This is an issue that can be taken up with the players’ union. Honestly, the negative backlash regarding the anthem protest has been blown out of proportion. If the salary cap continues to go up, it dismisses the idea, that these peaceful demonstrations are bad for business, which is an eye-opener. If fundamental moral differences are the reason for people not being hired, which they are, a huge can of worms is going to open up. I won’t begin on the insanity and delusion it takes to be against the kneelers, especially if you understand the purpose, but I do hope one day, we can learn to understand one another.

  11. I don’t think it matters whether there’s hard data that irrefutably shows that the anthem protests have hurt the game. There no reasonable doubt that the anthem protests greatly offend many fans–which is a great reason for an NFL team to avoid signing a player that participates in them.

  12. I read the whole article. I am disappointed that there is no conclusion on the legality. Kneelers are not a “protected class” so I doubt that it is against the law. The CBA does not determine what is and is not allowed in the hiring process. If Brett Favre says he won’t listen to the coach (a right given to all players) but he’ll just wing it when he wants, the Jets will hire him. The Patriots won’t. The Patriots aren’t violating and law by not hiring Favre.

  13. Can NFL teams make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests?
    ============================================================

    Yes. You want him to play then buy the Panthers.

  14. The whole “kneeling” thing has lost it’s original focus anyhow.

    It started to protest a rash of police incidents that were deemed unnecessarily violent….that cooled down after the Dallas Police incident 2 summers ago….nothing Nationally really happened after that….yet the players kept kneeling? Actually, the kneeling got more intense well after these incidents.

    What are they kneeling for should be asked – the players probably dont even know any longer.

  15. I personally disagree with kneeling during the anthem. But this is an excellent non-emotional breakdown of the law and completely correct.

  16. What you are missing (again) is this: Those protests are costing the owners and the league money, which means, at least as far as the owners are concerned, the protests are going to stop, one way or the other.

    The vast majority of employed American citizens would be fired from their jobs if they used company time to protest for their own beliefs or causes. I’m still waiting to find out why professional football players should not be held to the same standard.

  17. Yes. Teams/Owners should be able to hire whoever they please. These laws and rules that advise business owners who they can and cannot hire are absurd and need to go. Imagine you put everything in your life on the line to own a business and you were forced to hire an employee who doesn’t share any of your core values. The laws are simply set up to force those who put their best foot forward in life to hire those who don’t.

  18. This is a great article and explanation. I would say that you should send it to Jason Whitlock, but all the logic and well thought out arguments would give him a headache.

  19. If I don’t pledge allegiance to the banner or I kneel during the anthem and get fired (because it was not in the rules of the NFL when I signed my contract) wouldn’t it mean the NFL is trampling my 1rst amendment right? This has nothing to do with nothing except money. Fans are so fickeled. People used to get on Michael Jordan because he never had a political stance on anything yet Muhammad Ali went further than any athlete in modern history in terms of protesting and he ended up the greatest of all time and respected all over the world. You cannot have it both ways. The NFL doesn’t want them to protest and won’t hire Kap and Reid, yet agreed to give 90 million bucks to the cause they are getting punished for…The NFL is a mess.

  20. I would argue asking the question is perfectly reasonable. Just like I would argue asking the question of “do you intend to attend non-mandatory off season workouts” is a reasonable question to ask a prospective employee.

    Nothing about asking the question means the decision to hire or not hire you will be based solely on your answer, but I do think the team has a right to know prior to hiring you what kind of baggage you’re bringing along with you.

    I’ve been asked in interviews several times how I would handle a certain situation. My answer always fits within the guidelines of what I would be allowed to do in the prospective job, but because the hiring manager may not like how I answered, that can factor into whether or not he would hire me.

  21. ilovefootball25 says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:20 am
    They’re a private business…they can do whatever they want.
    —————————————————————-

    What don’t you people understand about labor law and collective bargaining agreements. They are not working for your little corner store, some things have to be bargained for. The point of the article was stop letting your feelings about the protest blind you to what can and cannot be LEGALLY done.

  22. this is beaten to death. the issue about hiring someone or not hiring them based on anthem protesting is proof. how can you prove thats not why somoen isnt signed? teams make bold personnel moves all the time. moves where it seems a more talented player is cut/not signed in favor of a perceived lesser player. sometimes it has to do with money, fit, attitude, coachability, locker room mechanics etc. too many variables to be able to PROVE it was about anthem kneeling.

  23. The NFL is the BUSINESS with overarching rules that must be followed by their partners (teams). Teams manage themselves as independent but as a willing partner to the NFL, they are bound to the contractual agreement set forth by the League.

  24. Of course they can. Just as much as I can decide to not watch if my favorite squads players start kneeling, or they sign (ahem) someone with said intention.

  25. Yes. Not on race, not on religion. Not on national origin. But on behavior that some “customers” may find offensive? Yes.

  26. Sure, there’s nothing in the CBA that requires a player to stand for the anthem. There is also nothing in the CBA that requires a team to extend a contract offer to that player.

    Why are you so hellbent on taking rights away from the employer to protect their interests in the manner that they see fit?

  27. So in other words, once again under Goodell the league stepped all over itself and allowed this to happen because they were too stupid to put clear language in their rule.

    Got it. Just another fine example of clown Goodell’s incompetence.

  28. The Eagles fired a security guard for criticizing them letting Brian Dawkins walk in FA.

    There was no outcry over that.

    You know why that is? Because they are private employers. They can hire and fire as they see fit. If they deem an employee is harming their product to their consumer, they have every right to not hire a person, or to fire a person.

    I don’t understand your opposition to this…you seem to think the First Amendment applies to employers. It doesn’t. It protects you from government intervention…that is it. End of story.

  29. With regards to the “fired” aspect. A team can cut a player for a variety of reasons or no reason at all. Kneeling during the anthem doesn’t give a player a blanket of protection from being cut.

  30. And furthermore, the NFL rulebook specifically states that players will stand during the anthem. The owners have already chosen not to punish those who have kneeled/sat during the anthem. This is what happens when “the inmates run the asylum/prison”.

  31. Guys, we’re supposed to hate the rich owners, not the rich players. STOP SCREWING UP THE NARRATIVE!

  32. CK collusion case is getting stronger by the day lol.

    That said I would be curious to know what Florio makes of the principle that the 32 clubs are distinct enterprises and therefore could potentialy apply certain policies specific to them?

    I guess you can add club policies on top of NFL policies as long as they dont contradict and dont violate the CBA???

    If thats right then indeed ehat the Seahawks and Bengals have done is wrong and they should be held accountable.

  33. To my knowledge, the NFL doesn’t impose a league-wide curfew on nights before games, but individual teams do.

    So, is it wrong for a team to discipline a player for breaking curfew since the NFL doesn’t require a curfew, just like it doesn’t require a player to stand during the anthem?

  34. You honestly can not expect me to focus on my own personal conduct or the 99.99% of the players and fans standing when there are couple of people making it impossible to look the other way or turn the other cheek. You snowflakes just don’t get it. It has to be 100% or I’m going to flip out. 99.99% is not good enough. 100% or I’m holding my breath and boycotting everything.

  35. Why would a company not be able to hire/fire you based upon your values not aligning with their vision? If you are contracted then the company would only owe what the contract says for remaining salary.

  36. There’s no punishment for not standing from the NFL office.

    50 bucks says there’s no league rule about players being required to stay awake in team meetings. I’m positive there’s no league rule about be required to show up to team meetings 5 minutes early.

    Team by team behavioral rules are an entirely different animal. If you’re going to say, in this instance, teams aren’t allowed to set policy, then every team behavior policy is out the window.

  37. I have a Constitutional right to disagree, even vociferously and using expletives, if I so choose. Moreover, I have the right to publicly do this in the form of organized or individual protest, editorials or on social media. That right has been affirmed over and over in numerous courts, including the SCOTUS.

    Any potential employer also has the right to factor into a hiring decision my personal conduct when I engage in such behavior and the cause(s) to which my protest is attached.

    Such possibilities they are legally allowed to consider as a consequence of employing me is how my hiring would be received by the client base and how that would effect the public perception of my potential employer.

    You may not like it, but that’s the reality and I don’t think any sane and ethical court in the land would disagree.

  38. But can’t teams make employment decisions based on things that are allowed? For example, the NFL allows players (and arguably encourages them) to be informative and forthcoming in press conferences, but the Patriots notoriously keep there players reserved with the press. Are the Patriots not allowed to cut someone who reveals a private conversation with a coach?

    My point is, what is allowed is very different from what can be considered in employment considerations.

  39. YES, you can discriminate based on anything that is not a :”protected class” such as gender familial status, race or religion.

    “Kneelers” are not a protected class.

  40. I think most of the comments missed the part about putting aside any emotional perspective, and ponder a thorough and legal breakdown of the talking points of the matter from an employment law perspective. It’s easy to forget Florios roots in law, and it’s cool to see his legal mind at work laying the foundation of how he might approach this thing if he was working counsel for the issue. I would be curious if there are dynamics that being a franchise would add to the mix legally from a defense point of view.

    Long read, but there seems to be valid points about the NFL’s failure to properly address this early on, and it’s almost legal confirmation of right to do so – and then possible failures in violating a “right” itself confirmed.

  41. Since Goodell said its OK to kneel, we’ll leave that out of the hiring procees. We just won’t hire anyone who wears pig socks or Castro shirts, spouts racial rhetoric, or just hates America in general.

  42. Mike – with all do respects the CBA is not the end all – do all for everything. Protesting in/at the work place is offensive in any form whether it be political, social or otherwise. When thousands of people drop there DIRECTV football package and millions decide to watch less football then they have done in previous years and some sponsors who publically have stated the negative impact on there business because of the protest then there has been financial impact on there business. Yes the NFL has been wishy washy in there response because the protest became a political issue. The bottom line is pretty simple. Can you protest in a offensive way at the work place? The answer is an emphatic NO. So talk all the legalese and inaptitude of the NFL league office (No Leadership) as you have done on this issue. The truth is obvious.

  43. Simple answer yes

    People lose they jobs all the time now for doing or saying something controversial. Be it on social media, television, or in person. Even if it is done outside of the work environment

    Football players get released regularly at the point they are charged with something now. It’s the appearance. Even if cleared later of the charges, the damage is done.

    It’s an unfortunate situation. But it’s whwre we are societally.

  44. newenglandcheetahs says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:37 am
    The whole “kneeling” thing has lost it’s original focus anyhow.

    It started to protest a rash of police incidents that were deemed unnecessarily violent….that cooled down after the Dallas Police incident 2 summers ago….nothing Nationally really happened after that….yet the players kept kneeling? Actually, the kneeling got more intense well after these incidents.

    ———-

    You are incorrectly. It started when Kaep was pouting because he lost his starting position to Blaine Gabbert.

  45. fwippel says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I’m still waiting to find out why professional football players should not be held to the same standard.

    ———

    you either missed the news, don’t pay attention, or have covered your eyes and ears, but the league has stated several times that they allow it. That’s why.

  46. I’m sure I’m about to break the world record for downvotes, but oh well.

    First of all, many of you obviously didn’t read the article. The point is that once upon a time, the NFL COULD HAVE made it mandatory to stand, but they didn’t. In the past year or so, with a chance to revise the term “should” stand to stating that players “must” stand, the NFL actually went the other direction and clearly stated that players can’t be forced to stand. Now, the NFL has little to no ground to stand on to change that rule.

    Additionally, I’m not going to pretend to know all of the rules governing all of the workplace, but the NFL making people stand for the anthem is as much a political demonstration as it is the players choosing not to do so. To get the politics out of our sport, the answer is to not play the anthem at all, rather than force the players to comply with “our” view of Patriotism. Having the anthem automatically creates politics in sports, regardless of how the players react to it.

  47. “If the salary cap continues to go up, it dismisses the idea”…don’t remember who on here made that comment and don’t care, but let it be known that you obviously don’t understand how the NFL makes all of it’s revenue and what revenue numbers the salary cap is based on. The kneelers oppressing effect on league revenue will not be reflected in the salary cap for two or three years.

    It’s called “contractual obligation”.

  48. Whether they can or not is irrelevant, really. The question is whether they should, and the answer is yes. They are business owners, after all. It doesn’t require a 2000+ word article to come to that conclusion.

  49. NFL teams have the right to cut or sign a player for any reason. Players with contracts are cut all the time because the team doesn’t want to pay what the player’s contract says he is to be paid. No NFL team would cut or refuse to sign a player based solely on whether they stand for the anthem. If Aaron Rodgers decides to kneel for the anthem, will the Packers cut him? No! He’s the best player on the team by a wide margin. If a bottom-five player on the roster decides to kneel for the anthem, he could be cut not because he kneels for the anthem but because he isn’t a great player and the team doesn’t like his behavior. All players have the right to free speech. If a backup player exercises his free speech rights by criticizing the owner, the coaches, and his teammates all the time, he’s going to be cut regardless of what “rights” he has.

  50. The NFL has said that players are allowed to kneel.

    The owners are also allowed to sign and release players as they see fit.

    You want to demonstrate, have at it but don’t complain about the ramifications of your actions.

    I’m not sure what the big deal is here?

  51. Since employment law is primarily set state by state I’d say that the questions your can and can’t ask in an interview are dictated by that states law.

    Your should have a lot more leeway asking interview questions to a player asking for 10 million a year or a fortune 500 C level vs. a guy delivering pizzas for minimum wage.

  52. libertyandunion1994 says:

    April 13, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Yes.

    Try doing this at your job and tell me how it works out.

    _______________________________________

    It has worked out just fine. Thanks for asking.

  53. Great Piece (for those of us with an attention span beyond three paragraphs), and I don’t have the legal grounding to contest the specifics, but there a couple of bits which logically aren’t addressed and don’t hang together (or areas where I am naive to US labour law).

    Firstly, football players aren’t just employed to play football. They are part of a major marketing effort to represent the team and any other business that wants to pay to associate itself with the team. Surely player hiring decisions are based in part on your ability to discharge that role as well (hence why Tebow is in baseball if I understand happenings in that strange version of cricket correctly and why Suh was worth a fortune to fill both gaps in a line and billboards at Wembley).

    Secondly, there is the difference between the league as a collective and the teams as individual employers. Surely, the reason it’s a collusion case is that the accusation is that the league as a whole refused him employment for reasons other than talent or fit in the scheme? This is manifestly a prohibition of protest (if true) and removal of the given right your thesis points to. But is that the same as an individual owner saying ‘you will probably not connect to my fan base so I don’t see you as a fit here’?

    Surely Kap was already unwelcome in Miami (even though he would be a great fit as a spare Tannehill) due to turning up to an interview with Mando in a Castro tee and alienating a chunk of the local demographic. This is not about his choice in political-themed-apparel as much as it is his ability to responsibly represent a brand (I’m assuming the Herald’s finest didn’t accost him as he came out of Starbucks, it was a booked interview). But in Carolina, I can’t see them being that exorcised – that’s individual employers making employer-relevant decisions, isn’t it?

    But when 32 teams make the same decision it’s a clear discrimination and restraint of trade. Perhaps the question is this: those who think he definitely should or should not be able to protest will be rabid in their view (as is the political process). Perhaps its the sane, middle ground who can solve this: surely there must be enough people who are rabidly pro their team to scream that they should stop pandering to the few and sign a protestor rather than a 4th-team-bottom-of-the-roster type! Usually, being objectionable to some devalues you, it shouldn’t devalue you to zero, or to all 32 franchises.

  54. Yes…they can choose to sign/cut any player, at anytime for any reason. The CBA dictates how they will be affected for player pay (what is owed, what counts toward the cap, etc) but the CBA does not (nor can it, nor should it) mandate reasons for being employed/unemployed by team.

  55. Citi group can choose to not do business with gun manufactures. So the intellectual honest answer is hell yes they can choose to not hire for protesting during work time.

  56. cajunaise says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Players shouldn’t be activists…unless it’s activism I agree with. – America
    ———————–

    Plenty of players are activists, and plenty of players have foundations that do a lot of good in various communities.

    Thinking that some sort of social evolution is going to occur just by having a bunch of bozos resting on one knee during the singing of the national anthem is stupid. It might help if one of them actually articulated some reasons as to why they are doing the pointless kneeling.

    It might help if they were to actually do something that constituted a protest, like sitting out of games. That would get some attention.

  57. Although long, Mr. Florio’s analysis is quite helpful. Regarding Mr. Kaepernick, I’d like to know if his other actions, namely the pig socks, Castro t-shirt, and girlfriend tweeting potentially inflammatory remarks at a presumed employer can be considered by teams in making employment decisions? Mike, could you kindly address?

  58. If the protest does not bring negative publicity and divisiveness to your organization then it’s probably not a problem, but when it does, and it possibly affects your bottom line in the process, then the teams have the right not to hire the person causing these issues because it’s bad for business.

    If I protested during work and it negatively affected the customer or divided the office, I’d be shown the door immediately.

  59. Kaepernick is not currently playing in the NFL because he’s a marginal player who’s also a distraction. If he was actually a decent QB then some NFL team might actually be willing to deal with his baggage.

  60. I agree with some of the previous sentiments, it’s not about the protest, it’s about the venue. Frankly, I think that this has become more about finding a another reason to pick a fight with the league and has done little about the real issues of racially motivated violence. But all that aside, as a fan I don’t care to pay NFL prices to go to a game to get my social consciousness raised.

  61. From a legal perspective the biggest problem here is it supposes a decision is based on the anthem. its not

    Specifically, the seahawks, before ANY workout, before any discussion of salary or if hes capable of playing after 1.5 years off – asked a premiliminary question to check a box to decide IF hes worthy of consideration.

    he wasnt.

    Kap is desperate to make this about politics so he can get compensated. its about talent and value, and Kap has bottomed out

  62. Very good article. I wish that I was amazed by the stupidity of many of the negative comments made about this article but unfortunately the majority of people are idiots. The dummies need to get over the fact that the NFL has taken the stand to let its players embark on peaceful protesting. Clearly the NFL team owners are out of touch with their players and the majority of society as a whole. If the ‘old school’ football fans, ie cave people can’t get over the fact that the players are individuals and have the right to use their voice and the platform they earned to help improve the world, then don’t watch the games. The league will be better off without you.

  63. It’s important to know if the CBA specifically addresses this issue and it does not. So that means normal employment law and the policies and procedures of each team will decide the question. You can’t refuse to hire someone based on race, religion, etc. other than that you can refuse to hire someone for any reason on earth. If I don’t like the fact you protest then I can refuse to hire you.

  64. Florio lays out the legal issues pretty thoroughly, bjust because you dopes refuse to read it, doesn’t make what he wrote incorrect. You don’t have to like the law.

  65. Kneeling in and of itself is fine (I don’t like it but oh well.)

    The problem starts when it stops being a “protest” and starts being “oh crap! My business is being affected” for the owner/employer/check signer. The question becomes “why should I pay you if you will hurt my business?”

    And no, this will not be something that shows up at once (like wow! Ratings are down 90!) it will be slow. It’s out there. Read any comment board. People are pissed. The people trying to say there is not any anger are people collecting paychecks in regards to the NFL.

  66. It’s a business. During the interview process, the 2 main questions that any good business will ask during any interview is: 1. Are you a team player? 2. Do you work well with others? Asking a potential employee if he is willing to stand with his team to show respect for our country is a great question for any player trying to land a job on an NFL team. It tells a lot about the individual and his mindset.

  67. pftoutcast says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:56 am

    I have a Constitutional right to disagree, even vociferously and using expletives, if I so choose. Moreover, I have the right to publicly do this in the form of organized or individual protest, editorials or on social media. That right has been affirmed over and over in numerous courts, including the SCOTUS.

    Any potential employer also has the right to factor into a hiring decision my personal conduct when I engage in such behavior and the cause(s) to which my protest is attached.

    Such possibilities they are legally allowed to consider as a consequence of employing me is how my hiring would be received by the client base and how that would effect the public perception of my potential employer.

    You may not like it, but that’s the reality and I don’t think any sane and ethical court in the land would disagree.
    ——————–

    If you don’t want to hire a guy because he might kneel, then don’t allow any other players on your team to kneel. Problem solved.

  68. That’s a lot of bits and bytes to avoid saying “yes they can”. Heck, the question wasn’t even answered. Question: Can they? Answer: It’s wrong. Not no. Not yes. It’s wrong.

  69. Funny how all of the protests happen to be on company time. If your employer does NOT want you doing that on their time, the the player has a decision to make. In Kap’s case, he could NOT commit to to NOT kneeling. So, to summarize, Kap bears responsibility for him NOT being hired. Respect to both parties to sticking with their priorities. Kap just needs to find an employer who will allow him to protest on their time. Simple really!

  70. Thanks for the article clarifying why a team should not be allowed to not hire based on anthem protests. Logic tells me they should be able to hire and fire based on their feelings on the subject, but I finally see now why they cannot. I wish the protests would stop, but I also think many are way overreacting to them.
    So can the Seahawks not employ Kaep because they do not like how he will handle the attention he gets from the protests? Can they say it’s not the kneeling stopping them from offering a contract, but his inability to keep it from being a locker room distraction? Or can they ask him to not speak about it unless he’s outside team activities?
    I’m sure there’s another loophole the owners can use.

  71. Mr Florio,
    I must tell you that, while I do not agree with it in whole, I read and understood this article. I agree with you in the point that the NFL has never told the players they MUST stand during the singing of the National Anthem. I agree with your breakdown of the wording. I myself do not have a problem with the way they protest or show their opinion on social issues.

    The 1st Amendment allows anyone the right of free speech in public. The NFL, as you pointed out, was very nebulous in the original wording in the operations manual. And when they did clarify it by issuing a statement, it appears the NFL is saying this is an acceptable practice in the league. Up to this point I completely agree with you.

    Where we disagree is your statement of “After all, what good is any right in employment if exercising that right will get you fired?”. Need I remind you that Mr Kaepernick voided his contract of his own volition. It has been rumored (by yourself if I recall correctly) that CK, if he did not void the contract, would have had his employment terminated (cut). Nowhere have I seen that confirmed. Nor have I heard that his rumored termination was entirely based upon his standing (or lack thereof) on the Anthem issue. Per pro football reference, CK ranked 47th among QB winning % that year. Completion percentage was 26th out of 30. Yards per attempt 23rd. Yards per game 30th. Rating 17th. I will also concede he finished 13th in TD% and 6th best in Int%. I will also agree that a QB is reliant upon those around him. But a good QB also makes the rest of the team better. I reference Jimmy G in that. The aforementioned stats show CK for what he was. A lower mid-level QB in a league where the QB W-L and stats are the face of the franchise, for good or bad.

    I propose this scenario. John Doe works at Marvin’s Widget Factory. He shows up for work on time everyday and does his 8 hours. He by no means produces the least amount of widgets and thinga-ma-bobs, but he doesn’t produce the most. Occasionally he does good, but mostly his production is average. John decides he doesent like the color they are painting city hall. So he protests and marches and brings his displeasure to the media. As this behavior is out of the office his employer allows it. John now decides to terminate his employment. His employer hires Jack Frost. Jack produces more than John does 4 out of 5 days of the week. Now John needs a job so he applies to Jean’s doodads and dohickeys next door. Jean has 4 applicants all with nearly the same qualifications. Jean is going to look at all 4 applicants and decide against John as he brings excess baggage along with him. John is now upset and tells everyone that it is all because of his protest to paint city hall chartreuse, and all the employers in town will not hire him due to collusion. I by no means am comparing the social issues in this country with painting a building, it is for purely illustrative purposes.

    My entire point is that CK is a midling level QB in a league that demands their onfield general to be top tier. That can and will be overlooked to a degree. But when that degree is accompanied by a bunch of personal baggage, it becomes not worth it.

  72. I’d love to see very player kneel and see how the owners change their tunes when they have no team left to field. Will you hold it against your teams’ owner if he doesn’t sign great players because of his personal political beliefs? Would you be ok with the owners not fileding the best possible team because he and/or you don’t care for the players beliefs?

  73. Personally I don’t care if you stand or sit for the anthem, but I do believe everyone should stand and remove their hats to honor those who gave their lives for our country. With that being said you have the right to protest, but be prepared for the consequences of your actions. If this was a serious issue for players then they wouldn’t care about losing their job. Which brings me to kaep I didn’t care he sat for the anthem. What I don’t like is he said he would give up on his protest to find a job last season. Way to make a stand for something you believe in…

  74. araidersfan says:

    April 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Kaepernick is not currently playing in the NFL because he’s a marginal player who’s also a distraction. If he was actually a decent QB then some NFL team might actually be willing to deal with his baggage.
    ——————————–

    Bingo. It’s been said time and again. Every team has the right to weigh the question on whether this would be better or worse for their team, regardless of the reason. Call it chemistry, team atmosphere, distraction, whatever. The anthem thing has become a red herring for what teams have always done – weigh the pros and cons. Nobody needs to be “conspiring” to not want a Castro T-shirt wearing wannabee social justice warrior as their QB.

  75. lumas101 says:

    April 13, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I’m sure I’m about to break the world record for downvotes, but oh well.

    First of all, many of you obviously didn’t read the article. The point is that once upon a time, the NFL COULD HAVE made it mandatory to stand, but they didn’t. In the past year or so, with a chance to revise the term “should” stand to stating that players “must” stand, the NFL actually went the other direction and clearly stated that players can’t be forced to stand. Now, the NFL has little to no ground to stand on to change that rule.

    Additionally, I’m not going to pretend to know all of the rules governing all of the workplace, but the NFL making people stand for the anthem is as much a political demonstration as it is the players choosing not to do so. To get the politics out of our sport, the answer is to not play the anthem at all, rather than force the players to comply with “our” view of Patriotism. Having the anthem automatically creates politics in sports, regardless of how the players react to it.

    ————–

    What you are neglecting, is that the US Government is paying to promote that flag on the field. Thus, making them a sponsor. If an employee is harming the sponsors “brand”, that is not good for the business.

    You now have your employees directly contradicting and harming a paying sponsor. Does that sound appropriate to you?

  76. richrod12345 says:
    April 13, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    If the ‘old school’ football fans, ie cave people can’t get over the fact that the players are individuals and have the right to use their voice and the platform they earned to help improve the world, then don’t watch the games.
    ————————

    That’s just it, kneeling during the singing of the national anthem doesn’t do jack squat to help improve the world. They can’t even articulate a reason why they are kneeling.

    At least with Kaepernick, I knew why he was doing what he was doing.

  77. jjfootball says:
    April 13, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    No NFL player should make more than 2 million dollars a year.
    ———————

    Thanks, Bernie.

  78. Mike, you’re right, it’s a flat out labor issue, with the 1st Amendment, lurking. The NLF can’t say you can do it and then legally discipline for doing it. EX: a boss can’t grant you permission to smoke in the office or even outdoors in a designated smoking area and then fire you for doing it.

    No fair court in the land could justify that. But then, we are talking about – this land and in these times. Courts are typically business friendly and almost ‘notoriously’ so with this amount of republican influence. Which means that, what should ordinarily be a slam dunk for players’ rights, could go the other way, based on the ‘bad for business’ element, superseding a right, if decided in court.

    What’s likely to be decided in court first, is job discrimination of retaliation and collusin, as alleged by Kaep.

  79. Football Pat said: What don’t you people understand about labor law and collective bargaining agreements. They are not working for your little corner store, some things have to be bargained for. The point of the article was stop letting your feelings about the protest blind you to what can and cannot be LEGALLY done.

    ……………………………………………………….
    They can legally protest without having to worry about Legal consequences or getting cut. We are talking about the decisions made by the Owners to hire(or not hire)someone who has protested to the point of distraction to come play for their team. The players do have a right to protest, but that does not mean the team Owner’s rights to sign or not sign who they choose no longer counts.

  80. My business operates under a union contract,Teamsters to be exact, consisting of over 1700 pages. I had a conversation over this very topic yesterday after the Seahawks question hit the news. He consulted with his union headquarters by phone, and received an e-mail response this morning. He was referred to Sec 137.4.3.2 of the contract governing employee/employer interactions. Basically, what it said was that a prospective employee is NOT covered under the agreement since he is NOT a current employee of a participating employer, hence, he had no right to file a grievance under the contract. If the prospective employee is a dues paying member of the union whose payments are current, that person has the right to file a grievance with the union.

  81. Its really a touchy situation, because it undoubtedly brings unwanted negative publicity to the league.

    I think the easiest approach to a resolution if the NFL truly wants to end the protests, would be this. While most teams own a stake in their stadium, the team, nor the NFL technically own the stadiums. They are in fact private property and have the ability to prohibit any such activity on the premises. The stadium could mandate that any organization the conducts or allows protests on their property shall be fined. By fining the team for the players conduct, the Stadium through fining the guilty organization then gives the team the right to punish the player for conduct detrimental to the team. Thus giving the team the means to fine, suspend or even void contract guarantees to any such player whose personal actions cause unnecessary financial burden to the team.

  82. As far as hiring, yes. As far as firing, it depends. NFL players are contract labor so it would likely depend on the wording in their contract.

  83. nhpats says:
    April 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    If only Kaep could have played better than Blaine Gabbert….
    ——————–

    Why was Gabbert subsequently benched for Kaepernick? Oh yeah, he sucked worse.

  84. An absurdly tortured argument that is completely bogus. The so-called “right” you claim exists would only apply to disciplining a player or hiring/firing done explicitly because a player refused to stand. If a team concludes that a particular players actions-essentially no matter what they are-or a distraction and harmful to the team as a whole, it can cut the player. It can cut the player actually any reason or no reason whatsoever. The problem here is you are conflating “bad for business and “with “hired or fired because of a refusal to stand for the national anthem.” Regardless of one’s position, those two are not the same argument.

  85. You are free to exercise free speech rights and a private employer is free to decide whom to employ. The owner who decides that it is an American right to protest and they are okay with that wins–they shouldn’t let a legitimate protest stand in the way of that player’s livelihood and the well-being of the team.

    Many players have protested, but a few are being singled out.

  86. This is asinine. The stance that you can’t not hire someone just because you think he might negatively impact your business is ludicrous. You don’t need proof that he will harm your business.

  87. Any players who cannot follow the rules is a cancer on the team … so yes the team SHOULD NOT sign him.

  88. where is the proof that he isnt being signed because of the kneeling? just because he was asked and subsequently not signed doesnt mean thats the reason. im sure there was at least an hour long dialogue. maybe it was brought up that kaepernick didnt like x, and the owner is pro x. there is no proof, and therefore there is no case

  89. cajunaise says:
    April 13, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Players shouldn’t be activists…unless it’s activism I agree with. – America
    ——————————————-

    Players shouldn’t be activists at work. If they choose to, they should accept the consequences of their actions like the rest of us – America

  90. theroc5156 says:
    April 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    The NFL has said that players are allowed to kneel.
    ———————–

    That’s likely what prompted the “inmates running the prison” statement.

  91. we talkin’ about anthems man….not the game, not the game, not even the game, but anthems man…

  92. =====
    You are free to exercise free speech rights and a private employer is free to decide whom to employ. The owner who decides that it is an American right to protest and they are okay with that wins–they shouldn’t let a legitimate protest stand in the way of that player’s livelihood and the well-being of the team.

    Many players have protested, but a few are being singled out.
    =====

    But NO ONE is being singled out. The guys with a job are good enough on the field that it makes them still worth it even with the PR headache. The guys without a job aren’t.

  93. I’d respect these players a lot more if there was something on the line for them. If they were really willing to turn their back on millions because of a cause they believed deeply in.

  94. What’s really crazy to me is that no one bats an eyelash at the mere fact that we begin sporting events with a nationalistic rally, having absolutely ZERO to do with the game. That’s most absurd thing of all to me. One of the most frightening things about humanity to me is the refusal or inability to review and reanalyze things we are just indoctrinated to believe is “tradition” or “customary” when we’re small children, before the age of reason.

  95. If the NBA mandates their players to stand then I would argue that players in any league do not have a “right” to kneel during the national anthem. And since the game day operations manual in not part of CBA the “right” to kneel during the national anthem can be taken away by the NFL at anytime.

    If you disagree then someone needs to start rallying against the NBA

  96. Sure…owners can do whatever they want, they own the team. And good for them if they don’t sign a player that can help them win because they kneel to draw attention to the injustice in America.

  97. How could an action taken by the players that causes the home fans to boo the home team not be considered bad for an owner’s business? Fans are the team owner’s customers after all.

  98. I’m prepared to bet my life savings that every dimwit who comes to this site to defend the blackballing of Kaepernick and Reid A) Thinks that Tim Tebow should still be in the league, B)Thinks Kevin Williamson getting fired by The Atlantic is unacceptable, and C)didn’t read and couldn’t understand these points of law as made impressively clear by Florio.

    Let me describe yall in terms you’ll understand: SAD!

  99. The NFL screwed this up on Day 1 Rocky Blier gave them an excellent way out. The game is a place of business and a work environment personal protests are not allowed at work. I work for a major US manufacturer and we do not allow employees to protest in the workplace. If they had taken this angle the issue would be over. The league should not state this policy and then enforce if it is violated just like any other business.

  100. Each team on its own can have its own personal conduct code. Its own written or unwritten code on what it considers fair for the team and the fans and community.

    Take the packers. Its well known they shy away from any controversial player, one who was in jail or a trouble maker. They dont want the pain and agony that goes with it. To say they must consider all players in FA and the draft is just bs and wont happen. The fans have rights too.

    Ass a retired HR person for govt, I can tell you that they can ask about conduct the team considers detrimental to the team and fans. Kneeling at the anthem is not football. Its a statement and players can be told to not get involved in statements without team approval.

  101. This is a private industry, and they can ask any questions they want within reason to decide on whether or not they want to offer you a multimillion-dollar contract to play their game. Is I’m going to protest a social issue of protection class no it’s not a protected class so you’re not being discriminated against on a quote-unquote legally protected class so move on take responsibility for your actions and the consequences of those actions and stop crying around about it be who you want to be in this country but own what comes with it.

  102. Teams are franchises of the NFL. Don’t the franchises have the ability to make decisions on behalf of their franchise? If an employee of a local McDonald’s franchise starts to protest outside the restaurant scaring away customers doesn’t the owner have the right to take action?

  103. Since the league is based in ny and is a no fault state for termination would that not give the league the right to fire an employee with or without cause? Honest question

  104. Lets say some white player shaves his head, gets SS lightning bolts tattooed on his neck and drapes himself in a Nazi flag before the game, during the National anthem. Are we having an argument about why a team cut that player? Say he is par of below par as a player, like Kaepernick. We arguing any points then? No. No one would stand up for that player and use the 1st amendment as a reason.

  105. Unless it’s in the union players contract owners can do whatever they want. It’s their team, and if they feel those acts are detrimental to the organizational philosophy then the owner has every right to chose who to interview, hire, and fire. Don’t most companies already predetermine who they want to interview for a position within their company by evaluating someone’s resume? It’s funny…on most applications you have to give your skin color, gender, disability, and serving in the military. If you don’t think that is biased, then you are fooling yourself.

  106. You can be fired for something you say on social media. So yes, something you do on TV can do it as well – especially when it costs your team sponsors, fans, etc.

  107. Thank you for an excellent legal summation. This issue doesn’t exist in the NCAA because few teams are on the field during the anthem. Goodell opened the door for this situation when he decided in 2009 to use NFL players as a military recruiting tool. The politicization of football began right there. He could easily have prevented this controversy by quickly changing the rule wording regarding anthem participation from “should” to “must” the first time Kaepernick sat for the anthem before he was noticed by reporters. Instead, he reaffirmed an employee’s right to protest during work–something unheard of in most businesses. Now instead of standing by that decision, he’s allowing teams to discriminate against employees who exercise the right he affirmed. By trying to play both sides of the fence, he’s putting the league in legal jeopardy.

    I support Kaepernick’s social justice concerns and don’t care if or how others express their patriotism. That’s their business. But like most fans, I watch football as an escape and don’t think the field is the place for protesting. Goodell could have prevented all of this. It’s on him.

  108. 2 questions:
    1. Does an employer have the right to terminate a disruptive employee?
    2. Would the defenders of CK and his right to protest also defend the rights of a white supremist?

    In my opinion businesses can be advocates for viewpoints but employees cannot unless you let all viewpoints have the same freedom.

  109. When none of the Sanctuary cities and states don’t want you as an employee, you know you messed up. The former National Protest League employee made a lot of money, I hope he uses it wisely. Radicalization can make you make many bad decisions.

  110. It’s not the fact that they a protesting, it’s the way they are protesting. I see anymore players disrespecting our National Anthem on company time, I’m done with the NFL. If these guys ARE TOO STUPID to realize how insulting what they are is, then I have no time for them. Kaepernick now wants to play “the victim”. He is. A victim of his own stupidity and arrogance.

  111. holecrap says:
    April 13, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Kneeling at the anthem is not football. Its a statement and players can be told to not get involved in statements without team approval.
    —————–

    Yep, just like the shoe and eyeblack messages that the NFL puts the kibosh on.

  112. Sorry, but your legal analysis is incorrect.

    NFL players work for private employers who are not governed by the constitutional protections (state or federal) of free speech. Thus, if an NFL team elects not to sign or re-sign a player because that player has engaged in a political protest, the player has no free speech remedy.

    Likewise, an NFL team does not violate the collective bargaining agreement if it declines to sign or re-sign a player due to his political activism.

    The attempt to analogize this to an OSHA complaint is unavailing. In that case, the player/employee would be protected from retaliation by virtue of his opposition to a violation of a statute (OSHA) that does apply to NFL teams. It would, in essence, be a whistleblower claim.

    Finally, contrary to your assertion, the NFL has not given players the right to protest WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE. Any effort to bring a claim asserting that players have such an enforceable right would fail.

    So, while you may not like it, NFL teams are LEGALLY free to make hiring decisions (signing or re-signing) based upon their view of the anthem protests.

  113. I am not going to read all the comments, because I’m sure they are dreary and depressing. But I would be willing to bet that 95% of them are based solely on the headline. I appreciate your effort’s to share some of your vast legal expertise with the people here, but I think you should know by now what a waste of time that is.

  114. muckhappy says:
    April 13, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Since the league is based in ny and is a no fault state for termination would that not give the league the right to fire an employee with or without cause? Honest question
    —————————

    Doesn’t matter where the league office is located, since each team is a separate organization. Regardless of that, players can be released at any time for any/no reason whatsoever.

  115. Anthem protest is an alibi to cover up the collusion. Kap has said that he would not protest in the 2018 season if he is signed. There is a deeper reason why Kap is unemployed, and that reason is collusion. Someone powerful wants him to be out of the NFL and all NFL teams had to collude to make this wish happen.

  116. 2017 OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE Rule 5, Section 4, ARTICLE 8. PERSONAL MESSAGES.
    Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office.

  117. Thanks for going into the depth you did Mike. For the first time I fully understand. I put aside my own personal preferences and realize now? The NFL put a shoe in its mouth so to speak. I believe it’s just like smoking. Most employers will not like you smoke but accept that you do. If they choose to smoke fine. But you will have to do it in the area designated as smoking area
    Maybe the nfl can still permit players to kneel sit whatever they choose to do for the anthem but do it in a specific area labeled for such things. Inside the locker room would be fine and then they can take the field with the rest of their teammates when finished. Just a thought

  118. If ANY NFL team thought that Kaepernick was good enough to be of VALUE to their team….they would sign him. He want’s too much money for the value he will provide….regardless of whatever he does during the national anthem.

  119. Kind of interesting that a very bad person, back-up QB (whatever his name is) commits DV and the Seahawks are interested in Kaep(disproving collusion) but are dumb enough to not know you can’t ask that question. Every team’s lawyer should have given each GM a seminar (or the NFL) on what can and can’t be asked if you’re not smart enough or too lazy to read the fine print.

    As per the word ‘Should”. I bet it was put in there in case of someone injuring themselves who could not stand. But legalize is legalize. The Law is dictated by the interpretation of words. That’s why there is a Supreme Court. To interpret if the words of specific laws were in fact interpreted correctly.

    Then you change the law or rules, if they need to be changed. That’s a process.

    To leave the word ‘Should’ in there, is a smoking gun for anyone who is familiar with the ‘legalize’. Florio is correct. The Seahawks are going to be fined and sued.

    Ironic, save the NFL from a collusion loss of money to having to pay the guy yourself.

  120. “But that’s not what the league did. The NFL’s first comment on the matter was this: “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

    That was the moment the NFL confirmed that players have permission to sit, kneel, whatever during the anthem. And that was the moment that it became inappropriate to make hiring and firing decisions based on whether a player chooses to exercise the league-given right to not stand. After all, what good is any right in employment if exercising that right will get you fired?”

    I disagree with your interpretation of the NFL’s comment. The comment only served to say that the NFL would not take action against a player for not standing during the anthem. It did not say a team could not decide on their own to make hiring/firing decisions based on whether a player chooses to use his team’s games as a platform for his own agenda. In Kaepernick’s situation that’s exactly what happened. The NFL did not kick him out of the league. After he voided his contract voluntarily, each of the 32 teams did not think employing him would be good for their business.

  121. The only oeople arguing that the players protesting must be allowed as their free right are only thinking of protesting they themselves approve of. Imagine if a player started protesting something those same people found offensive. They would not want it to be that persons free right that had to be allowed. Rights and freedoms apply to everyone, not just the people that agree with you. Its an important point to keep in mind and sometimes its good to be careful what you wish for.

  122. I’m admittedly not an attorney, but I play one in my mind’s eye.

    My read on this is that the team policy can be more restrictive as long as it is not in conflict with the collective players/owners agreement, NFL Policy, Constitution, Federal, State or Local Laws. This does not contradict any of these, so I don’t see the NFL losing on the issue. Free speech clause of the Constitution does not allow this to occur without consequence.

  123. Amazing after all that, Mike, that the majority of commentators here are missing the point. Each team is not necessarily a private business. They belong to a league of teams/businesses that are beholden to the CBA that was painstakingly hammered out between their league and the NFLPA. They set the precedent, restated the precedent and reinforced the precedent. “Individual” teams cannot change the rules midstream without going back to the bargaining table. What is so difficult to understand? This isn’t your workplace, people. It’s the NFL.

  124. Whats interesting here is how in the entire article the only thing brought up was the NFL’s policies and the CBA…..with no mention of team rules mandated by the owner? Or Coach rules mandated by the Coach? Nothing ….but these rules are real…..Tom Coughlin had a rule that you must wear a jacket and tie in and out of the stadium on road trips…so if Coughlin had asked during contract negotiations to a said player ….We would like to know if you will take issue with or not conform to wearing black socks on road trips prior to signing you …..they most certainly can not hire someone or offer a contract to someone who says they wont, or would not answer as a guideline for the said hire …..Team rules still apply

  125. Bottom line, he REFUSED work by opting out of his contract. He is not an employee. He QUIT. Now, no one will hire him. He isn’t protected at all because HE QUIT. He wasn’t “fired” or “disciplined”. He QUIT. It just didn’t work out the way he hoped and expected. Welcome to the real world. When he opted out of his contract, that was HIS decision. Now, owners are making their own decision.

  126. The article talks a lot on what the NFL said was allowed (and does have a correct point on that) but then goes onto whether the NFL can make hiring and firing decisions based on that. The catch in that argument is that its not the NFL that hires and fires players. That is the teams. The NFL does serve as a governing body but still each team is its own distinct and separate enterprise. Each team has an owner who as such can do what he wants. He can decide he does not want to hire a player because he doesnt like what he had for lunch that day or in fact is not required to disclose why he made a decision at all. Also the NFL’s powers as a governing body grant them no authority to direct personal issues with teams. They had no power to order Baltimore to cut Ray Rice for example, what they could do was suspend him indefinately and then its up to Baltimore to decide whats best for the team if thats his status. They also cant tell a team to give Kaepernick a job, they can beg and try to coerce all they want, but they cant direct the hiring. (Otherwise I suspect that would have happened already). So any arguments about what hiring/firing the NFL can or cannot do is limited to personell employed by the league, which does not include the players.

    A lot of it is business decisions. If for example Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both started kneeling and even stated they were always going to do it going forward I would bet both keep their jobs since the value each adds exceeds any fallout from their behavior. In both cases the owner might talk and ask them not to but if they take the defiant approach the owner then had to decide whats more important to them. Those are both cases I think the owner just gnashes his teeth and puts up with it. But if the owner chose differently and either got cut then other owners are free to decide if they want to take that on. Even assuming if they were asked in interviews if they would continue and said yes its still and owners choice, in these cases I suspect that regardless of answer either one would probably get same day signed by another team and with a bidding war going on. (Yes I know Brady is old but dont kid yourself). But maybe some owners would say its not wirth it to me and thats their choice.

  127. So the best person to explain things is a Kaepernick zealot? What tells a lot about the subject is how the networks took sides early on by showing the kneelers and not showing the fans reaction. I’ve learned long ago zealots are incapable of being balanced and are blinded by the other side’s point of view.

  128. that a player is within his contractual right to protest and that the player may have redress should he be discharged from employment because he protested does not give an team any obligation to hire a player who has protested while employed by a different team

  129. Bottom line is, he had a job and refused work by opting out of his contract. He QUIT. Once he made the decision to opt out of his contract and quit, he is no longer protected by the CBA. He was under contract and employed. HE made the decision to walk away from the job and leave the organization. Thereby refusing work. Just like any other American, if you quit, you are ineligible for unemployment. He misjudged his value and quit. After he made HIS decision, owners are making THEIR decision. Welcome to the real world. He made decisions based on his needs and beliefs, the owners are now exercising their rights to employ who THEY feel gives them the best chance to win and who represents their organization in the manner that they desire. In MLB, there are quite a few teams who have a “no facial hair” policy. If you are a free agent and the team asks you, during an interview, if you intend to shave your facial hair and you answer “I don’t know”, they have every right to not offer you a contract as it is a TEAM POLICY. Also, if you are under contract with a team that has a no facial hair policy and you decide to grow facial hair, they have every right to discipline you up to and including termination. Companies (teams) have every right to have company/team policies that are more restrictive than the law. Just because Colorado has legalized marijuana doesn’t prohibit employers from deciding not to hire people who use marijuana or firing ones that test positive for marijuana. Even if the employee has a prescription for it. That DOES NOT violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. Companies can have policies that prohibit it even if it is legal by state law.

  130. This is such a silly argument. Just because you have the legal right to do something does not mean that there are not consequences to exercising that right if it is deemed detrimental to the team. Do players have the right to not give 100% on every play? Yes, they have that right, but by exercising that right they might find themselves jobless.

  131. thisdamnbox says:
    April 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Amazing after all that, Mike, that the majority of commentators here are missing the point. Each team is not necessarily a private business. They belong to a league of teams/businesses that are beholden to the CBA that was painstakingly hammered out between their league and the NFLPA. They set the precedent, restated the precedent and reinforced the precedent. “Individual” teams cannot change the rules midstream without going back to the bargaining table. What is so difficult to understand? This isn’t your workplace, people. It’s the NFL.
    ——————–

    Each team is a private business and they are free to handle this however they want.

    The only thing the NFL said was the league office wasn’t going to do anything to kneeling players, because there are no rules prohibiting it.

  132. crappygovernment says:
    April 13, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Record as starting QB in last season before blackballing:
    Tebow 8-5 (with playoff win)
    Kaepernick 1-10
    ——————–

    Tebow wasn’t blackballed. He washed out of the league because he was no good, just like hundreds of quarterbacks before him did, and hundreds of quarterbacks to come will.

  133. thisdamnbox says:
    April 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm
    Amazing after all that, Mike, that the majority of commentators here are missing the point. Each team is not necessarily a private business. They belong to a league of teams/businesses that are beholden to the CBA that was painstakingly hammered out between their league and the NFLPA. They set the precedent, restated the precedent and reinforced the precedent. “Individual” teams cannot change the rules midstream without going back to the bargaining table. What is so difficult to understand? This isn’t your workplace, people. It’s the NFL.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    The long-winded word-salad that is this article shows that Florio has missed the point, intentionally, and is trying to justify his take on the situation. If you look at my previous post, you will see the rule where the NFL prohibits–not discourages–personal messages (eye black words, stickers, shoe messages, raised fists, protests, etc.) while in view of the stadium or TV audience. Absent a change to THAT language, Florio’s point is irrelevant. The league merely said they wouldn’t enforce that rule via the scheduled consequences (warning/fine/disqualification) on game day. I contend that was primarily to avoid backlash from some that would mistaken view punishing players as racist or an infringement on “free speech”. Instead, it has caused more backlash and tribal arguments.

  134. Florio was at his best during the second half of the non-issue called Deflategate. Not so much on the initiative of teams to hire their help. Let it go, Mike.

  135. This article actually is biased bc it leaves out many facts that support the business side and we know Florio’s opinion on the issue.

    The NFL Rule Book, however, does bar players from “wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, … which relate to political activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or campaigns.“ Official Playing Rules of the National Football League, Rule 5, Section 4, Article 8 (2017).

  136. That’s a long article to say: “I rest my case on the definitional issue of “must” vs “should”.”

    Some definitions treat them as the same, see below definition of ‘should’

    3. must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency):
    You should not do that.

  137. sorry Florio, NFL teams can run their business as they see fit. Social justice warriors cannot always get things changed by their petulance to which I may say: YESSSS!

  138. Players of today do not feel they are employees and to act as the employer requires in the work place. Funny how all of us on the road in the mornings get this.

  139. “Cutting a player for protesting is the most obvious contradiction of a player’s right to protest. Not hiring a player who intends to protest is no different than that.”

    The leap of logic in the latter is unsupported by any of the quite rational arguments used to support the former. A FA has no contract and as such is not by definition still a ‘player.’

    (BTW, I’m not the least bit shocked this has been deleted half a dozen times already)

  140. My bosses would have fired me if I brought public embarrassment to the company. Why should the NFL be different?

  141. It’s pretty obvious that the majority of commenters here don’t want to read any answer other than what they agree with. If you’d read it with an open mind, you’d realize tjhe answer is “probably not.”

    As a former HR person, I think Mike described this very well. The NFL has backed themselves into a corner trying to play to both sides of the issue.

    The argument a few put forth that teams can set different rules doesn’t fly. The NFL sets the majority of rules, and all the ones that really matter. A team can’t opt out of substance abuse, domestic violence, personal conduct, or any other policy just because they want a different one. You can’t argue that an athlete must stand based on a “should” policy, while at the same time saying nfl rules don’t apply at a team level. They either do, or they don’t. Plus, this is a union environment. Significant changes to working conditions have to be bargained. There’s been enough precedent to now consider the ability to protest as part of the working conditions.

    If the NFL thought this was a business issue costing them money, they should have treated it that way from the beginning. They didn’t. They tried to LOOK like they were inclusive/progressive while actually BEING the opposite, and now they’re stuck.

    Proving collusion not to hire is difficult, but the nfl is making it easier every time they hire some terrible QB without even giving Kaep a call or interview. And now Brown stepped in it with Reid, asking him if he were going to protest/kneel.

    This will likely be a point brought up in the next CBA discussions, unless the NFL can figure out a different solution, like having players stay in the locker room until the anthem is over, or foregoing the anthem altogether (wtf does the national anthem have to do with sporting events anyway?).

    The NFL could have changed their policy to “must” but they didn’t. Now it’s too late.

  142. Regardless of whether it’s “bad for business” when players protest during the anthem, the NFL gave them that right, the “NFL confirmed that right, and the NFL has reiterated the confirmation of that right. Making employment decisions based on the exercise of that right makes that right meaningless, which makes it flat-out wrong to consider past protests or plans to protest in the future when deciding whether to sign a player.”

    The NFL didn’t give them that right. The Constitution of the United States did. However, is the NFL a game, or a business? If it’s a game then the NFL can’t do much. If it’s a business, and that’s exactly what it is, then they are allowed to inform employees what is acceptable and what isn’t in the workplace.

  143. Since 90% of the commenters clearly didn’t even read the article, I feel justified in wandering slightly off-topic…

    I like the anthem being played before games. I like the ceremony, I like the formality and I like the feeling it gives. I like the pause for reflection as well. What it means to me is, we all take a moment to appreciate living in a country that leads the world, and that many men and women gave their lives in service of that country. It is a reminder that freedom isn’t free. It also points to the fact that our country’s greatness and the sacrifices of it’s best and bravest citizens, have provided us with the opportunity to gather peacefully in great numbers and enjoy the playing of a game. And the game is played by our strongest, fastest, guys that would be in our fighting force in time of war. The anthem ceremony is a reminder, an ode, a memoriam, an inspiration. That’s how I’ve always felt about it. And that’s why I understand the protests in that context. For some Americans, it doesn’t feel like a time of peace. They don’t have the same feeling I get when I hear that song, they feel like there’s still work to be done. I can understand that, i can understand why they choose to protest during the anthem. They are taking that opportunity to let people know that America isn’t equal for all Americans.

    Another thing: empathy isn’t weakness. And there is no “us vs them” here. Black or white, lib or com, Dem or GOP, we are all Americans and we should all care about every last American.

  144. Love that so many people are saying the attorney missed the point, but if you read my long-winded post, you’ll understand the issue. Right. The attorney explained the points of the law. The teams may have individual team rules, but they are bound by their membership in the LEAGUE. People keep talking about Kaepernick. The article isn’t about Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract. It’s about whether or not teams have a right to discriminate against other players, such as Eric Reid, based on whether he intends to kneel during the anthem. I’d rather the players protested off-field, but Goodell affirmed their right to stand or not on the field, so teams that refuse to hire players on that basis are opening themselves to legal liability. That remains true no matter how the fans feel about it.

  145. The answer is YES. Every single hiring decision is discrimination. I have my job because my company discriminated against others by hiring me instead. Culture fit is a legitimate factor on hiring employees. If you are too quiet, or if your hygiene is poor, if you state that you hate Republicans or hate Democrats in the interview, you can be passed up for that or anything else. You can be passed up because the owner just does not feel right about you.

    Kneelers are not a protected class.

    If a league rule says you SHOULD (not MUST) do something and you think you SHOULD NOT, the owner can say get out of my building and no one can do anything about it.

    This is America, so I guess they can have a frivolous lawsuit.

  146. The childish arrogant protesting players made a really dumb decision to bash America while being on the job. Their decision did not take into account the lives of thousands who fought for this country and still thousands more of friends and family. Millionaires claiming persecution is a joke. Most have experienced far less discrimination than most Americans, black or white! So on your day off get out there and protest or better yet do something in the communities to make a difference. Maybe you don’t because the players who are doing what they can to make a difference don’t get the attention that kneelers get?

  147. Deb, people are calling out the attorney for failing to abide by his stated goal of being thorough and objective. He explained SOME points of law but left out any that were counter to his own argument. He neglected to mention the NFL rule that expressly prohibits the protests and instead focused on legal wording of how to behave during the anthem. That particular item seems to be a behavioral expectations protocol in general while the rule he omitted is geared towards specific prohibitions. Goodell’s statement(s) were spontaneous at a podium and/or in response to reporter questions. Does that utterance supersede the written and approved rule or does the rule technically stand until officially changed or rescinded? No mention of that at all. Did he dig down and find out if the choice to not punish players was an intended change to the policy or just a decision to acknowledge the wrong yet not punish to avoid more PR problems. Florio is entitled to his own opinions but, for me, if a lawyer intentionally leaves out and never addresses legitimate counter points it usually means the lawyer has a weaker case than is being presented.

  148. FCOL,

    I hate lawyers.

    This is simple. The rules say they “should” stand. They can choose to stand or sit. The owner then can choose whether or not he wants to be aligned with the player and his behavior IN THE WORKPLACE. Let me ask you this… in baseball should a player run out a ground ball? I think most would agree that they should. Is that written somewhere in the bylaws or team rules? Maybe but probably not. Can an owner decide that he no longer wants to employ a player because he doesn’t run out a routine ground ball? YES, he can.

    There is absolutely nothing preventing players that are currently employed to kneel except for the very real possibility that their employer might not want to employ them any longer. That isn’t hard for 90% of the people on this board to comprehend. I’m certain that lawyers will go back and forth and make millions of dollars representing the kneelers who just can’t seem to grasp the reality that they may have knelt away their careers.

    WE TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN. Nobody is surprised except Darin, Florio, Kaep and Reed.

  149. harril3, I think you made some decent points but a couple are contradictory. You can’t say
    “Significant changes to working conditions have to be bargained.” and then immediately follow that with “There’s been enough precedent to now consider the ability to protest as part of the working conditions.” because that precedent you describe (that I don’t think is correct) has not been bargained for. You assert that the NFL should have treated it as a business issue costing them money from the beginning. I believe they did. I agree they look like they tried to play both sides but I believe that their reasoning was profit-centric. They knew they were losing money. They also knew that a heavy-handed response could cost them MORE money. They tried to compromise and hoped the players would back off a bit and that would appease the angry patriotic fans but it didn’t work out that way. You, like Florio are harping on the fact they could have changed should to must but didn’t. The same could be said concerning the rule that forbids personal messages such as protests. It reads “prohibited”, not discouraged. They could have changed that wording but they chose not to as well. The result is conflicting messages that either side will view negatively and that is exactly what they did wrong in handling the situation in the press.

  150. The NFL has been so wishy-washy about this and they should’ve found a way to address it right off the bat. However, people need to stop comparing pro athletes to themselves and their work situation. These are entertainers who are given a platform – like actors, musicians, artists, writers,…etc. and us it to express themselves. They have a “right” to do so because they are in the public eye and what they say and do gets reported, like it or not. What you do in your job is irrelevant – there’s no similarity here.

    The NFL could simply ban kneeling during the anthem, but really, for all the people who get huffy about “disrespecting the flag and country” is forcing people to conform to a shallow, performative, meaningless gesture of “patriotism” really what this country is about? If you feel kneeling players is a bad look, the NFL forcing players to stand is just as bad in my opinion. Sending the message “you have to stand to honor our free country” is pretty ludicrous. If you don’t like it, that’s your right, but this kind of thing is part of the complexity of living in a free country.

    It would’ve been nice if the Seahawks, say, could’ve started a dialog with Kaepernick about the anthem protests and try to reach an understanding or some other solution – if kneeling is an issue for them.

    On tv ratings: yes, the NFL ratings were down in 2017, but the major networks on average suffered a larger ratings drop than the NFL – and the NFL ratings are still HUGE. There is no way to pinpoint why the ratings dropped – no one can honestly say it’s solely because of the anthem protests – that kind of thing is just propaganda.

    Ratings for everything are most likely suffering because of cord-cutters, and a problem the NFL (and other leagues, too) have is that the product is spread across far too many networks. Take last season – the Thursday night package was sometimes on Amazon Prime, then for a few weeks on…NBC, I think?…then back to Prime – and there may have been another one in there, too. Make it easier to find the games, and provide a comprehensive, reasonably-priced streaming package. They need to bring in a new generation of fans.

  151. However, people need to stop comparing pro athletes to themselves and their work situation. These are entertainers who are given a platform – like actors, musicians, artists, writers,…etc. and us it to express themselves. They have a “right” to do so because they are in the public eye and what they say and do gets reported, like it or not. What you do in your job is irrelevant – there’s no similarity here.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I disagree. Their job puts them in a spotlight and their celebrity can bring attention to whatever cause they put forth. That said, their “platform” is playing football on the field, not protesting before the game. What they are doing would be like George Clooney stepping in front of the camera in the opening scene of his next bomb of a movie and promoting socialism or complaining about big-oil or whatever and then transitioning into the role and acting out whatever scene is supposed to be first in the movie. They don’t do that but they do lobby for their ideas in front of the press. The athletes can do the same but they would rather do it at the live event of a football game. Your belief that athletes, musicians and actors are “relevant” and regular people aren’t is laughable and a sad representation of societal values. Those folks are there for our entertainment, like jesters. That’s their job and if we collectively are not entertained their “relevant” job disappears and they would need to find another line of work where looking pretty, being able to run fast or sing out of tune are somehow helpful and valuable.

  152. The league SHOULD change the rule. The league MUST put some clarity to it, one way or the other.

  153. Team policy should be to win games. Who cares about this anthem stuff — it’s small potatoes.

  154. Players get refused jobs with teams for being distractions all the time. Few teams want locker room cancers or media distractions. All an NFL team wants is someone who helps win games and sell their product.

    The real question should be if a player being accused of something, but not charged, should be grounds for termination. Completely innocent players can be accused by a vengeful ex of abuse and lose their job because of it. That’s not right.

  155. I think its more like this. Nearly every team in the NFL really doesn’t care if a different team hires him, just not them. His gf doesn’t help, she is kinda rabid and has him under her thumb.

  156. he’s allowing teams to discriminate against employees who exercise the right he affirmed. By trying to play both sides of the fence, he’s putting the league in legal jeopardy.

    ———————————————————————-

    Where’s the discrimination? There is no fence, it’s a line. You can stand on whichever side you chose. If I am extremely qualified for a position but in the interview I tell them I left my job because I disagree with that companies value system, this could make me a malcontent if they hired me. So what happens, yep, I don’t get a follow up interview, and they wish me luck in my future endeavors. What’s the difference here? If an organization sees him as a possible malcontent, then guess what, he doesn’t get hired.

  157. The ironic part of this discussion is that Kaepernick’s lawyers have already answered the question by suing the league for collusion, rather than suing individual teams for a failure to hire.

    Why? Because the latter claim would fail. There is absolutely no legal claim that arises from an individual team’s decision not to sign (hire) a player because of his political activism.

  158. The CBA governs EXACTLY under what circumstances teams CANNOT cut players without consequences, namely when the players are injured. The teams can cut players for ANY other reason that is not explicitly spelled out in the CBA. The CBA is silent on cutting players who are arrested, it is silent on cutting players who beat their wives or girlfriends but escape an arrest, the CBA is silent on whether a team makes a business decision to not be associated with a player for ANY reason whatsoever, so long as that player is not injured. If the CBA had been drafted to protect players who protest during games, it would have been drafted to do so, it was not. Teams can fire players for any reason so long as that specific reason is not spelled out in the CBA, such as injured players who must be allowed to recuperate or get an injury settlement.

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