The U.S. Supreme Court forced a Washington high school to bend their knee to a former football coach they fired for kneeling in prayer after games, but they couldn’t make administrators play nice with him.
Former high school football assistant coach Joe Kennedy gained national attention for his First Amendment fight to pray on the football field. His case began after his 2015 firing and ended with a 2022 Supreme Court win.
Coach Kennedy returned to Bremerton High School to coach but resigned after one game. He explained that family health reasons compelled him to return to Florida after coaching just one game for his former employer.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Kennedy stated during Friday’s appearance on the Fox News program “Fox & Friends.” “We’ve had problems with a family member down in Florida.”
Kennedy’s legal journey began in 2015 when he was fired from his coaching position due to his practice of saying a silent prayer on the 50-yard line after games, according to a Fox News report.
His act of faith turned into a significant legal battle that culminated in a Supreme Court ruling in his favor in 2022. The court upheld Kennedy’s First Amendment right to pray without coercing others to join.
Following this victory, he was reinstated as an assistant coach at Bremerton High School in March 2023.
Kennedy’s return was not as smooth as he had hoped, noting Bremerton School District officials “didn’t enjoy having me there as much as I was expecting them to.”
“Fighting for eight years, you get tired,” the football coach said. “It was a never-ending marathon.”
He added he was satisfied with his decision to resign.
“I just think it’s best for everybody that I go out on a high note,” said Kennedy.
His attorney, Hiram Sasser, dished dirt that indicates officials for the school district organized a concerted campaign against the coach after being forced to rehire Kennedy.
“Well, coach is a Marine,” remarked Sasser, “so he’s too proud, he has too much honor to tell you everything the school district was doing.”
The attorney revealed that Kennedy faced multiple obstacles, including not being given a play card or an assignment for the game.
“They banned him from the team meal,” Sasser said, “they didn’t invite him to the coaches’ dinner with the opposing team’s coaches.
“They wouldn’t give him a locker,” he continued, “his key fob wouldn’t work and they wouldn’t let him get in to certain meetings.”
He opined the district’s actions seemed aimed at ostracizing Kennedy and keeping him away from the team’s players.
“I’m happy, holding my head up high, and know that I fought the good fight, that I finished the race,” Kennedy said, referencing the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4:7.