The NFL, players who kneel and the law

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s gathering–Yom Kippur break fast–when I found myself in an argument with a man whose name I didn’t even know.

But I did know that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Which was the NFL protests during the national anthem.

He spoke soberly and gravely, with an attitude of calm command.He was a complete asshole.

Some of the things that came out of his mouth:

“These are millionaires…”

They are not “millionaires,” mister. A lot of them are kids whose athletic gifts–and, more often than he seemed to understand, academic prowess, too–catapult them into strenuous jobs that pay well but for an average of only three and a half years. And very few of them make millions. For that very short time, they more than earn their money.

Besides, as I pointed out to him with a lot of heat, “The team owners are billionaires and make those billions from their players. If they fired protesters, they wouldn’t have their teams.” Maybe I also told him most of the team owners were right-wing pricks.

He seemed not to know what the protests started by Colin Kaepernick were about–unequal justice, police shootings of unarmed black men and boys–and parroted the “respecting the flag” nonsense we’ve all been hearing from liars like Trump.

“…Inappropriate place for protests…they should be using their time to go into [forgive me for writing this but it’s exactly what he said] the ghettos and barrios and working with kids to…”

To do what? I think he was mealy-mouthing his way around saying something about respecting police.

Then I yelled. I yelled that he didn’t know what he was talking about, knew nothing whatsoever about those players, a number of whom have started foundations with their “millions,” for all sorts of social purposes that were relevant to their lives and ours. I specified a number of those players and pointed out that the Giants, for only one of the 32 NFL teams, had regular team activities involving all sorts of causes, charities and social outreach–a lot of them with children.

He was a bland ignoramus, offering platitudinous opinions without any validity.

Among the nakedly stupid opinions this guy had was, “A letter in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that in any normal business, the owners would be entitled to fire their employees for this.” “Oh,” I said, with a sneer, “you’re getting your opinions from the Wall Street Journal?”

He (and the Wall Street Journal, if he was quoting accurately) was utterly wrong about that, too.

As Benjamin Sachs and Noah Zatz, both legal scholars, make clear in their calm and factual New York Times opinion piece. For which I am grateful, since it’s obvious I can’t be calm about this.

Source: The Law Is on the N.F.L. Players’ Side – The New York Times

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