A football coach says he is just doing what any freedom-loving American has the right to do.
Now under investigation by the Bremerton School District for praying after football games, former Marine Joe Kennedy tells KING 5 that what he’s done at the 50-yard line for years is nothing new.
“It’s about freedom and people can believe whatever they want,” he told KING 5. “I’m just exercising my right. The game is over and I just thank God for every one of these young men that are out here.”
The JV head coach and assistant varsity coach says he never asked anyone to join him. At some point, Bremerton players began praying with him after games; players from the opposing team began joining as well.
Prayer on the gridiron is not an unusual sight. It’s a common ritual, even in the NFL, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. In fact, it’s just as common for prayer on CenturyLink Field as it is at Bremerton High School. Just take a look at Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who is known for leading prayer. Wilson has even shown how devote of a Christian he is through various forms of media, including an interview where he described his discussion with God.
But prayer after an NFL game led by a player, and prayer led by a high school football coach are two different things. School district policy states that school staff should neither encourage or discourage non-disruptive oral or silent prayer, which might explain for the investigation into Kennedy’s post-game prayer.
Though he understands why parents might be concerned, O’Neil said football is a game of sacrifice and confrontation, and to have everyone come together afterwards is a positive thing. He said he has a hard time saying it’s wrong.
Of course, things would be more clear if the prayer was occurring in a class, Ross explained. Students don’t have a choice to be there. Football is different, he argues, students don’t have to be there.
As the investigation into the post-game ritual continues, Kennedy tells KING 5 he will continue to pray after games.