Ron Rivera will stand for anthem, but fully supports First Amendment rights

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When the regular season begins (and hopefully it will), the head coach of The Washington Football Team will be standing for The National Anthem. But Ron Rivera will not question the decision of players to use the anthem as a platform for protest.

“Well, the truth of the matter is again, let’s go back to our Constitution, to our Bill of Rights, the amendment,” Rivera recently told TheAthletic.com. “Let’s go back to the oath of office to serve and protect. Part of the Constitution is the First Amendment. There’s a lot of people out there that support the Second Amendment vehemently. Well, if you support the Second Amendment vehemently, why wouldn’t you support the first one, which is freedom of expression, freedom of speech? And that’s all that is. That’s an extension of one of our unalienable rights, one of our God-given rights, one of the things written into the Constitution. So, again, let’s at least applaud that. Let’s celebrate that as well.”

Rivera said he’ll stand because his father served in the military, his brother was a first responder, and his wife’s family has a history of military service.

“My dad had brothers that served in World War II,” Rivera added. “So to me, standing at attention is what I’m going to do. That’s how I’m going to honor them. I might kneel during the coin toss because I do support Black Lives Matter. I do support the movement to help correct the policing. But at the same time, I think everybody has to celebrate what the Constitution of the United States entitles us to do as Americans. That’s the thing that everybody’s got to understand. We got to get past all this other stuff and quit making this a political fight. There’s nothing political about the Constitution. It’s clear cut the Supreme Court rules on it, follow it, and then we’re supposed to defend it.”

As the pandemic continues to consume so much of football’s focus, issues regarding the anthem will become front and center if/when games are played. Given the uncertainty created by COVID-19, criticism and controversy over players not standing for the anthem should be regarded as the proverbial good problem to have, because it will mean that games are being played.

19 responses to “Ron Rivera will stand for anthem, but fully supports First Amendment rights

  1. Covid-19 might bring everyone in the NFL to their knees whether they want to or not

  2. Can’t be anti-American while following the amendments of the constitution. Freedom of speech can not be denied.

    Good job of laying out the logic.

  3. Like I’ve been saying all along, it’s now going to be about who is NOT kneeling for the anthem and insisting they apologize or explain themselves.

    Bizzarro world.

  4. My post above should have also included that if an employee says or does things that are counter to an employer’s policies or messaging, there is no right for the employee to spout off and to do things. Of course the employee can leave the job and protest all they want.

  5. Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

    OK coach, if one of your players exercises his 1st amendment rights and calls you out as a crappy play caller are you going to “celebrate” THAT expression?

    Why doesn’t the league “celebrate” taunting? Because THAT is just another example of freedom of speech.

    Why don’t people “celebrate” President Trump’s tweets? GREAT example of freedom of speech right there.

    So don’t give me this absolute garbage about how we have to “celebrate” everyone’s expression of the 1st amendment. Because that’s NOT what the amendment says. People can “express” themselves however they want to, and we can “express” our reactions however we want to as well.

  6. You are conflating taking a knee, which is a peaceful, respectful way to protest, with breaking employees rules (calling out the coach).

  7. One thing I will never understand is why fans are so angry about the kneeling and keep watching. If fans are that offended they should stop watching, stop posting on football blogs and stop contributing their time and money to the NFL. Just looking at ads on any NFL related site is contributing. A boycott would be a calm and effective way to let the league know about your disapproval instead of wasting your time being so angry.

  8. It’s funny how worked up people get about this issue. I view football like any other TV show or movie. I don’t care what the actors believe or who they are as people (as callous as that sounds) I just want to be entertained. I love the Mission Impossible movies, can’t stand Tom Cruise. Point is, it’s weird how invested we get in these football players when their only job is to entertain us. The NFL has employed rapists, spousal abusers, drug dealers, and every manner of criminal in-between. I’m not equating that behavior with kneeling but if we can get past all that this kneeling non-semse shouldn’t be an issue.

  9. Why is everyone standing feel they need to explain or apologize. My stand I will not attend one more NFL game I stand by our nation and its symbol the flag. Ops I just explained.

  10. radar8, his example is extreme, but his point is valid. First Amendment protections of free speech protect you from government action against you. They DO NOT extend to unbridled workplace protections. An employee cannot simply choose to say or do anything he feels like if the employer feels that is contrary to business interests. This is why businesses have things like Codes of Conduct, trade secret protections, etc.

    However, the players are certainly allowed to, for example, assemble peacefully in public front of a government building or police station, and kneel as they see fit. No player involved is subject to arrest because that is when First Amendment protections kick in.

  11. all my, The employers are allowing the players to take a kneee, so there should be no problem.

  12. radar8, that is true for now. It was not true in previous seasons. And business interests will determine whether that’s true in the future. A written policy statement by the NFL would help.

    Regardless, Ron Rivera is completely clueless here about what the First Amendment means and how it’s applied. His analogy with the 2nd Amendment is inane because I’m pretty certain guns are not allowed at NFL games. Why not just say that kneeling is fine with him and the management? What does the First Amendment have to do with anything here?

  13. Whether you people have noticed it or not the culture is already changing in Washington with that man as the coach. Much respect Ron.

  14. I mean his dad was Military, he spent years in San Diego, a military town, so he probably still has a ton of military friends still from there. Yea he’s standing..

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