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Given the recent uptick in news regarding the anthem controversy Marshall Newhouse Jersey , it’s time to address some of the fundamental questions relating to the situation.

The goal of this article is to take a fairly complicated and polarizing societal question and analyze it, objectively and thoroughly, from the perspective of labor and employment law. (For those wondering why they’d be inclined to read a legal analysis from some Internet hack who writes about football, that’s a very fair question. I practiced law for 18 years, specializing over the final 14 or so in matters of labor and employment law, both from the employer’s perspective and from the employee’s perspective.)

The first challenge for anyone considering this issue as a matter of labor and employment is far easier said than done: You need to set aside whatever your personal beliefs may be regarding NFL players protesting during the national anthem. Whether you like it, whether you hate it, or whether you land somewhere in between, if you forget your own feelings on the issue, you’ll be able to better understand the legal issues relevant to the situation.

Along these same lines, you need to forget about the question of whether anthem protests are “bad for business.” (Some presume that the protests have hurt the NFL’s business; the evidence, however, is inconclusive. Yes, TV ratings are down, but not as far down as TV ratings generally. Also, revenues — and in turn the salary cap — continue to rise. For the fifth straight year, the salary cap has increased by more than $10 million per team.)

Actually, let’s assume that the NFL’s teams subjectively have concluded that anthem protests are indeed “bad for business Larry Csonka Jersey ,” inconclusive evidence of a negative impact notwithstanding. If that’s the case, the question becomes whether the NFL can make hiring and firing decisions based on anthem protests that are determined to be “bad for business” under the principles that apply to the employment relationship between NFL teams and NFL players.

For any issue arising under the relationship between NFL teams and NFL players, the question begins with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association says nothing about the national anthem. The rule regarding the anthem appears in the NFL’s game operations manual, which provides in pertinent part as follows:聽鈥淭he national anthem must be played before every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the national anthem.聽During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

This rule, adopted in 2009 as part of the league’s decision to move the players from the locker room to the sideline during the national anthem, was drafted by the NFL. By using “must” in connection with the playing of the anthem and the players’ presence on the sideline but the non-mandatory term “should” when referring to standing during the anthem, the NFL created a loophole in the policy, making it different from the NBA rule that mandates standing: Players must be on the sideline for the anthem, and players should (not must) stand.

When the anthem controversy first emerged in August 2016, the NFL could have quickly revised the language of the rule, or the NFL could have taken the position that “should” as a practical matter means “must” within the broader context of the rule. After all, the league has brought them out of the locker room not to protest during the playing of the national anthem but to be props in the broader effort to wrap The Shield (which looks a lot like the flag) in the flag.

The fact that the rule didn’t appear in the CBA (which is the product of comprehensive collective bargaining between the NFL and NFL Players Association regarding the terms of employment) most likely would have given the league the ability to unilaterally change the rule. In other words Allen Bailey Jersey , the league possibly could have simply changed the rule on the spot, without talking to or bargaining with the union.

But that’s not what the league did. The NFL’s first comment on the matter was this:聽鈥淧layers are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.”

That was the moment the NFL confirmed that players have permission to sit, kneel, whatever during the anthem. And that was the moment that it became inappropriate to make hiring and firing decisions based on whether a player chooses to exercise the league-given right to not stand. After all, what good is any right in employment if exercising that right will get you fired?

When the anthem controversy reached new heights in September 2017, fueled by an attack on the NFL and protesting players by the President, the league did not change the rule. Instead, the league reiterated the fact that players have the right to protest, if they choose to do so.

鈥淒uring this past season, we received assurances from both Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the Management Council, John Mara, that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected,” the union said in a statement issued last month, after Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said that he would prohibit kneeling (and then backtracked). “We are glad that both the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have clarified their positions to be consistent with what was confirmed with our union leadership, and we expect all other NFL teams to maintain the same commitment to protecting those rights.鈥?(The NFL has at no time disputed the notion that Goodell and Mara provided assurances that the right of players to demonstrate would be protected.)

This is

Two of the top four teams in the NHL are guaranteed to be out the playoffs after the second round.

Goodbye Nashville or Winnipeg. Goodbye Boston or Tampa Bay. Thanks for playing.

That’s the reality under the divisional playoff format that could pit the top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences against each other in round 2 after Pittsburgh and Washington were forced into that predicament in back-to-back playoffs.

”There’s not a whole lot of logic there,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

How’s this for logic? If ranking teams 1 through 8 in each conference like the old format that was in place from 1993-94 through 2013, the No. 2 seed is facing the No. 4 seed, 3 versus 7 LaDainian Tomlinson Jersey , and 5 versus 6 in the first round in the East and the West this year.

A Penguins-Capitals style repeat could happen this year with the Central’s Predators and Jets on a crash course for a second-round showdown and the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning locked into a stacked Atlantic bracket with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

”You’d think that’d almost be a third-round series kind of thing, but so be it,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. ”It is what it is. You’re going to have to see a team like that eventually. There’s not much you can do to change it.”

Maybe this spring will be enough to spark a change in the oft-criticized format in its fifth season that is agreed to between the league and NHL Players’ Association through the 2019-20 season. The Capitals getting knocked out in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins didn’t lead to much debate.

”I would assume after his year there’d be a bigger appetite to do it,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. ”In the past it hasn’t affected as many teams as might be required to get that movement. It’s basically been us that’s been the team that’s not benefited from the 1 through 8. But we’ll see what happens this year with a couple more really good teams being beat out in the second round.”

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the playoff format is not a burning issue for owners, wasn’t discussed by GMs and should be looked at over a long period of time instead of focusing on ”anomalies.”

”It’s worked I think for the most part as we anticipated it would work,” Daly said. ”I do believe in terms of the matchups in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they’re better with this format. They’re just more intense and more familiar with this format than they were in the old format.”

Reigniting and creating new rivalries was the goal of this playoff format, which mimics the one in place for most of the ’80s and early ’90s. Inequities have happened, but so has plenty of drama on Cup runs by the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and the Penguins twice.

”I think that as a fan, you want to see matchups against rivals,” said New Jersey defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016. ”I think that that pits archenemies against each other more often and it can backfire every once in a while. You can get two high seeds playing each other in the first round or the second round and perhaps that’s not fair but I think ultimately it’s good for the game to have heated playoff series against teams that don’t like each other and see each other a lot.”

Heated playoff series make this time of year fun, but Predators versus Jets and Bruins versus Lightning would be just as compelling, if not more so, in the conference finals. Hockey people reluctant to fault the system typically take an approach like Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who said, ”Whether the format itself is right or wrong Sam Koch Jersey , if you want to win the Cup, you have to find a way to get through this format.”

The difficult part is the format isn’t created equally, making one road to the third round or the Cup Final potentially easier than another.

”I don’t necessarily agree with how it is, but it’s the way it is,” said winger Wayne Simmonds, whose Flyers open against the Penguins. ”You have to have a mindset that you’re going to play teams in your division first and foremost and that’s just the way it is.”

Orpik said players can’t wait to revisit the format when the agreement is up, which could be part of the next round of collective bargaining talks. But there’s no consensus on what would be better – a return to 1 through 8, league-wide 1 through 16 or something else. The expected addition of a 32nd team in Seattle could spur change, too.

”You can play a 1-to-16 playoff pool, but I would suggest to you that there’ll be inequities in that,” Predators GM David Poile said, referencing travel among the issues. ”Pick your poison. I think you change that and you come up with the next idea, you’d run into the same thing. … I don’t think there’s any exact playoff plan that everybody would say is perfect.”



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