The League

E.J. Dionne Jr.
Columnist

E.J. Dionne Jr.

Washington Post political and policy columnist

Real Heroes Speak Out

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What does it say about sports if our heroes are able to tell us what we should drink, what we should eat, what kind of shoes we should wear, what kind of cars we should buy, what we should shave with and splash on our faces, but are silenced when they want to speak out about the future of our country? I have always admired players who are willing to risk their big endorsement contracts because they care about the outcome of an election or think that a cause is worth fighting for. (And, yes, I admit that occasionally, I am disappointed that a player I love doesn't share my political views.)

I have no problem with a coach suggesting that players shouldn't let their political differences affect the way they play the game. If a receiver is open, the quarterback should throw to him whether he's a Republican, a Democrat, a Socialist or a Libertarian. But shutting down political talk in any workplace is wrong. People shouldn't lose their free speech rights when they go to work, and that applies to football players no less than to the rest of us.

On the whole, I think politicians do us all a favor by not campaigning at sports events. If a politician is a fan, he or she should absolutely be able to show up at a game and cheer. If players shouldn't lose their speech rights; politicians shouldn't lose their rights as fans. But politicians should also face the fact that real sports fans will smell temporary election season fans a mile away.

Let's make players' free speech rights a bi-partisan cause: A team that includes players who care enough about politics to argue about an election is a team that puts country first. It's also a team we can believe in.

By E.J. Dionne Jr.  |  October 15, 2008; 3:44 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I agree with E.J. But even more interesting than letting them speak would be actually hearing what they have to say. Specifically Brady Quinn. 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 to find out what influences such ideas. 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: Steve in Los Angeles | October 16, 2008 11:01 AM

I have no issue with men or woman in sports being political but agree, you must back it up with a well thought out POV, if all you can say is :"I like keepin' my money," sorry that does not cut it, give me your thoughts on WMD's, Torture and the substance issues of our time and I will hear you out more. I think back to Ali, he backed up his views.

Posted by: Alex35332 | October 16, 2008 11:17 AM

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