Le­gal ex­perts split on if NFL can pun­ish for protests

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS -

WASHINGTON » Jerry Jones may want to bench Dal­las Cow­boy play­ers who don’t stand for the national an­them, but NFL own­ers could find them­selves fac­ing a First Amend­ment law­suit if they pun­ish foot­ball play­ers or coaches for their protests after tak­ing gov­ern­ment money into the pri­vate busi­ness of pro­fes­sional foot­ball.

The NFL is a pri­vate busi­ness — and the First Amend­ment only pro­tects Amer­i­cans from free speech abuses from the gov­ern­ment. But le­gal ex­perts dif­fer on whether pro teams who play in pub­licly-funded sta­di­ums or who ac­cepted gov­ern­ment money in ex­change for pa­tri­otic dis­plays like the national an­them could find them­selves legally ex­posed if they pun­ish kneel­ing play­ers.

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