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Ex-coach Joe Kennedy to KTTH: Plan was to stay in Bremerton all year

Sep 7, 2023, 5:13 PM | Updated: 5:22 pm

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Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy holds hands with his wife Denise as he walks in front of the U.S. Supreme Court with members of his legal team after his case, Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District, was argued before the Supreme Court April 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy resigned Wednesday after one game with the team, but he told Jason Rantz of KTTH his original plan was to coach the entire year before getting unfortunate health news about a member of his family.

“God’s timing is so ridiculously perfect, and I hate to say it’s perfect for my father-in-law, but he’s the whole reason we moved here to Florida in the first place, because of his health,” Kennedy told Rantz during an interview Thursday. “He just got some really bad news last week, so we were just focused on the Friday game. Getting to that one spot because that was the finish line for us. I was planning on sticking out the whole year.”

Kennedy noted there were several reasons for the decision in a statement released on his website Wednesday, including that he was taking care of an ailing family member in Florida. The former coach now lives there full time.

More on Joe Kennedy: Coach leaves Bremerton High after the season’s first game

Kennedy was at Bremerton High’s fall camp for approximately one month before deciding to “pull the plug” and retire on his own terms.

In his lone game back as an assistant coach last week, Bremerton won 27-12 over Mount Douglas Secondary School of Victoria, British Columbia. After the win, Kennedy knelt and prayed for approximately 10 seconds in the middle of the field. No one joined him, but there was scattered applause from the crowd, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Kennedy initially lost his job during a controversy over his public post-game prayers. Years later, the U.S. Supreme Court held his practice was protected by the Constitution.

Kennedy is proud of the team, not of the school

“I got to sit down with the head coach and talk to him and we were both seeing perfectly eye to eye,” Kennedy said. “We said, neither one of us has a choice in what we have to do, so we’ll make the best of it. And he did. He’s a fantastic guy. I’ve left the football program in very, very good hands.

“And I couldn’t be prouder of the team. The school is a whole different story,” Kennedy added. “You knew they were going to be chilly towards me, and they were and that was to be expected. The fact is, the kids don’t care. They just want to play football. They thought it was a novelty to have me back. It was cool to be part of the students’ lives again and see them develop in just a small amount of time.”

From the Dori Monson archives: ‘I’ve got faith’ – despite other reports, praying coach says he’s ready to start talks to get his job back

But his abrupt exit was not much of a surprise for either the school or the community, as he hinted before Friday’s game that he might not last the full season as the school’s part-time assistant coach, claiming the game was a “fine bow” on top of his Supreme Court victory.

In a resignation letter obtained by The Seattle Times, Kennedy stated: “It is apparent that the reinstatement ordered by the Supreme Court will not be fully followed after a series of actions meant to diminish my role and single me out in what I can only believe is retaliation by the school district.”

School officials have acknowledged Kennedy’s departure, but have chosen not to make any additional comments.

“The district has received Mr. Kennedy’s resignation and it is pending board approval at the regularly scheduled meeting (Thursday),” a statement on the Bremerton School District website states. “The district does not comment on personnel matters, so we will not be issuing any further statements.”

“Do you think the school learned any lessons?” Rantz asked Kennedy. “Or did they just reluctantly have to give in?”

“They had to give in, which is really amazing, because it started out just as a question: Is the coach allowed to pray after a football game? Somehow along the line, the school district lawyers took a position and they dug their heels in. They just wanted to remove any kind of religion from anywhere in the public square, and I can’t deal with that. There’s no way I could let that just lie, so it became very adversarial.

“They didn’t learn anything, even after they had to pay for my attorney fees,” Kennedy added. “They just referred to this as an eight-year distraction. And I’m sorry, the Constitution is not a distraction. The First Amendment means something to me.”

More from Jason Rantz: Seattle cop reports own conversation, fears of out-of-context smears

Kennedy stated he has a desire to explore work within a ministry and receive more education from both the Bible and God now that his football coaching days are behind him. He, alongside his wife Denise, also wants to help people fighting for religious liberties.

“We’re going to fight for the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, you name it, I’m going to fight for it,” Kennedy said. “I will stand up and use the platform to help out any American that feels like they’ve been trotted on and had their constitutional rights infringed on. I will stand with them.”

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities.” Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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