I have been stewing over this for the past week: The NFL should not be able to deny a player his livelihood because of his political views -- while also taking public money to subsidize their profits.
In my book, that doesn't make you private sector.
Yesterday, in the midst of the news about the latest protest policies from the NFL, we found out that contrary to official spin, Colin Kaepernick was indeed considered a starting quarterback to potential employers.
Here's a reminder that this is about money:
Based on a secret recording, the New York Times recently reported on an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners and players in which player representatives said they believed Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who started the “take a knee” protests, was being blackballed by the league’s owners. (It will all come out in Kaepernick's civil suit.)
Blacklisting raises several issues. First of all, the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint. NFL rules also require players to stand at attention during the national anthem. They claim the right to require this as private-sector employers.
Many states (including some with NFL teams) have laws against blacklisting former employees. Colin Kaepernick is uniquely affected by blacklisting -- because there is only one National Football League in the United States.
And in that secret recording of their meeting, the NFL owners made clear they were not eager to attract further criticism from Trump -- because they didn't want to lose any more viewers.
But that brings us to 18 U.S. Code § 227, which states that no employee of the legislative or executive branch can wrongfully influence employment decisions. Seems pretty clear, right?
Kaepernick is currently involved in a civil suit accusing the NFL of collusion, but this is also a serious public matter because it chills freedom of speech. Trump has no legal right to prevent Kaepernick from making a living. And the NFL shouldn’t get to have it both ways by clamping down on political views as private employers -- while also taking public funds for stadiums.
So I'm asking you to sign this petition asking attorney generals in the states that host an NFL franchise to investigate this case and protect players from political discrimination.
Sure, it's a long shot. But maybe some ambitious prosecutor will take on the NFL, you never know. What's going on is just plain unAmerican.
If you agree, sign the petition.