Law professor talks NFL players' rights after controversy


President Donald Trump brought an issue back into the spotlight at a rally in Alabama Friday night. He's criticizing a silent protest hundreds of NFL players are joining.

It comes after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem in 2016 to highlight social injustice at time marked by protests over police shootings of African-Americans. Now more players are either kneeling, sitting or raising their fists during the anthem in defiance of either the president's words or social injustice.

President Trump said on Twitter "The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It's about respect for our country". Friday he suggested NFL owners should fire players if they're showing disrespect.

Employment law professor Joseph Seiner says in this case there is no precedent for NFL owners to terminate a player for a silent protest.

"All the players already have a contract with the owners and there would be no provision to terminate or say 'you're fired' to an NFL player. A lot of times you have to balance these interests versus these first amendment rights," says Seiner.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to the issue over the weekend saying "Our players are at our best when we create a sense of unity...divisive comments like these demonstrate a lack of respect".

"Whether that's constitutionally sound or not, that's for other people to make that determination but they're obviously expressing their views in a way that's not physically hurtful to others," says Seiner.

NFL officials say they won't pursue fines or disciplinary action because of the on-field protests.

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