NFL’s defense of free speech can’t be a short-term thing

Bret Stephens, a conservative New York Times columnist, recently lamented in a speech the shortcomings of civics education in the United States.

“Younger Americans seem to have no grasp of what our First Amendment says, much less the kind of speech it protects,’’ Stephens said.

The NFL stepped into the void this past weekend with a civics lesson on free speech with its protests during the national anthem about racial inequality and police violence against African-Americans.

The protests ramped up after Donald Trump criticized the protests, and many Americans agreed with Trump even though America was founded on dissent and sprotesting is part of our way of life.

Critics say protests during the national anthem are not American, but they are very American. The players aren’t showing disrespect, but respect for American ideals.

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Looks like union will remain a paper tiger against NFL owners

The NFL owners apparently can’t wait to get DeMaurice Smith back to the negotiating table.

After the players’ selection committee voted to extend Smith’s contract as the NFLPA head, league spokesman Joe Lockhart congratulated Smith (pictured) in a conference call and then talked about the 2011 negotiations.

“I think we had productive negotiations with him in 2011,’’ Lockhart said. “We believe strongly that it has worked for both parties, for owners and players.’’

Can you imagine a Major League Baseball spokesman ever making a comment like that about a deal that Marvin Miller negotiated for the baseball players?

The deal has worked out great for the football owners. The players? Not so much.

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Arrogant Patriots got a well-deserved comeuppance

The Patriots didn’t do any deflating Thursday night.

Instead, they inflated five Super Bowl trophy replicas that looked like they belonged in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and rolled them onto the field before their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

They put on the scoreboard: “Atlanta 28 NE 3 2:12 3rdQtr

That was a reminder of their Super Bowl comeback, and the announcer talked about the greatest comeback of all time.

They unveiled their fifth Super Bowl banner.

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Pursuit of Elliott is more nonsensical buffoonery from Goodell

Remember New Coke?

In one of the most bizarre marketing decisions in American history, Coca-Cola changed its century-old formula in 1985 to a more sugary taste, only to face a deluge of complaints from outraged customers.

Just 79 days later, the company brought back old Coke as Coke Classic.

All you could think of at the time was, what were they thinking?

Their explanation is that they were worried about losing market share to Pepsi. But nobody in the boardroom raised a red flag that changing the formula wasn’t the answer.

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Five Things to Watch: NFL Week 1

Five things I’ll be looking at in the first week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. How will Tom Brady play in the Patriots Thursday night opener against the Chiefs?

At age 40, Brady has shown no signings of slowing down in training camp. And if Brady is still Brady, they are three games – two home playoff games and the Super Bowl – away from a sixth Super Bowl title before they inflate their first football.

With Brady, they are a lock to make the playoffs again since they play in a division with the Jets, Bills and Dolphins. But sometimes aging quarterbacks can just suddenly fall off a cliff. Or decline slowly.

Brady will be under the microscope for any signs of slowing down all season. Oh, and the other thing about the opener is the reception the Patriots fans will give Roger Goodell. How many will wear the clown T-shirt that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia wore getting off the plane after the Super Bowl? What will their signs say?

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When will the NFL realize the Kaepernick issue isn’t going away?

Most of my younger readers have probably never heard of Frank Serpico.

He was a New York City police officer whose campaign against police corruption was chronicled in the 1973 movie “Serpico.’’ He was played by Al Pacino. It’s a very good movie, by the way.

Anyway, it turns out Serpico is now 81 and still an idealist.

He turned out at a rally Saturday of about 75 mostly minority police officers who gathered in Brooklyn wearing black shirts reading “imwithkap.’’

Kap, of course, is Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who remains unsigned after refusing to stand for the national anthem last year.

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Despite the rhetoric, don’t count on an NFL lockout or strike

The saber-rattling between the NFLPA and NFL has already started, even though the current labor deal runs until 2020.

Some players have already starting tweeting about their salaries not matching NBA salaries.

And NFLPA head De Smith told The MMQB that a lockout or strike is a virtual certainty in 2021.

The rhetoric, though, doesn’t match the reality.

I doubt there will be a lockout or strike.

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