What rights do NFL players have?

Ruling says players can no longer kneel during national anthem

Cherri Gregg
May 23, 2018 - 5:46 pm
From left: The San Francisco 49ers' Eli Harold (58), Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 2, 2016.

Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — NFL players — like all Americans — have First and 14th amendment rights that prevent the government from retaliating against them for their symbolic conduct.

But the NFL isn't the government.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a rule change within the NFL in which all players who are on the field must now stand during the national anthem or else their team will face penalties. 

"Players are employees," noted Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "Like employees of other private companies, your boss gets to tell you how to do your job."

Under the new rules, players can protest by staying in the locker room during the anthem.

"Athletics has always been a forum to talk about racial justice," added Gregory Holston, executive director of POWER. 

He believes the NFL decision will face backlash.

"What are you going to do when players come out?" he questioned.

Reports say NFL TV ratings dropped 10 percent amid protest and injuries.