The League

Jess Atkinson
Place Kicker

Jess Atkinson

Former place kicker and NFL commentator.

Big Brother Crennel


Let me get this straight, now an NFL head coach wants to tell his players what they can and cannot talk about? Romeo Crennel's dictum is way out of line. Not only does talking politics belong in locker rooms but they could use more of it.

Romeo's missing a couple things. First, the locker room belongs to the players. It's their sanctuary. The coaches run the meeting rooms, the practice fields, weight room, training room and press area. In those places, the players must accept that they serve at the pleasure of the coaches. But the locker room is different. There, both literally and figuratively, everything is stripped bare. The pecking order is based on performance and respect, not reputation or the size of one's contract. A clear, cogent analysis of health care may even move a player up the locker room food chain. So for coaches to seek to impose their will in this place reeks of big brother. Or at least Hu Jintao.

Crennel's real worry is that talking politics will interfere with his team's unity. This idea deserves some credence. I mean, how civil is today's political discourse? If the candidates and the partisans are all slinging mud, wouldn't Willie McGinest and Brady Quinn? I think not. Because unlike most partisans, people on a football team can rise above their political leanings and unite around a common goal. They do it on a weekly basis. Maybe Crennel should just steal a page from both political parties and redistrict his locker room.

By Jess Atkinson  |  October 15, 2008; 12:04 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Good For Political Players | Next: Real Heroes Speak Out


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The coach is saving the team from saying something stupid or becoming identified with either party. This is purely done for economic reasons. The NFL doesn't want players to do/say anything that might offend advertisers.

Posted by: Jimbo | October 15, 2008 1:10 PM

This is an issue of a boss doing a bad job. Romeo should focus on the field and keep his censorship to himself

Posted by: Anonymous | October 15, 2008 1:41 PM

The locker room is not where you work, it's where you get ready to go to work. Big difference.
There's at least an even chance that these athletes might say something really intelligent. Given the anti-intellectual attitude of so many of the populace, it could be a very positive action. And to hear two people disagree and then watch them work together wouldn't be a bad thing either.

Posted by: blbixler | October 15, 2008 2:17 PM

Maybe if the team wasn't 1-3 heading into when he banned talking politics, he wouldn't have.

Posted by: Bill | October 15, 2008 2:36 PM

Players on a pro football team do not function like most of us. They live in an isolated and controlled environment. They are told what to eat, fined for being over weight and forced to endure humiliation, brutal training, and life-threatening injuries, all for the good of the team.

They also get well compensated for this. Telling them what is and is not ok to discuss in that environment is just an extension of that overall coaching control. They agree to it, are millionaires as a result of it, so shut up and play.

Posted by: Butchy | October 15, 2008 2:40 PM

You don't give up your right to free speech just because you are a professioal football player!

Posted by: William | October 15, 2008 4:26 PM

Free speech should not be on the table in the first place. Yet another subtle movement away from the heart and soul of the United States. But even more confusing to me is, why is a young man of means who went to college and travels around the country, etc., voting for a Republican? Any Republican. And why is he telling other people about it out loud? That's some free speech I'd like to hear. What the heck is Brady Quinn talking about? I still never heard why Curt Shilling was so excited about Bush in '04. What was that all about?

Posted by: Confused | October 16, 2008 10:52 AM

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