By Mark Gallagher

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced last week that the draft will take place as scheduled from April 23-25.

And then he added:

“Public discussion of issues relating to the draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”

In other words, there shall be no public criticism of my dictate.

That was Thursday.

Yesterday NBC’s Peter King received many anonymous complaints.

According to King, they want more time to scout players. Social distancing mandates have put a full stop on teams meeting with prospects.

From King’s column:

“Some are unhappy that the draft will go forward on April 23-25, figuring all the restrictions on scouting will make it harder for all teams to get up to speed on players.”

King also cited two “prominent” members of the NFL personnel community upset with Goodell’s gag order.

From King’s column:

“‘Why on earth would you ever threaten an opinion?’ texted one prominent NFL person. Another: “‘Whatever happened to freedom of speech?’”

This is a valid complaint. To a point. Nobody likes to be told to keep quiet. And Goodell’s mandate struck a strikingly authoritarian chord.

But the second complainant appears to have a tenuous grasp on the concept of freedom of speech. Goodell hasn’t threatened to enlist government enforcement of his gag order — at least not that we know of.

He’s simply threatened discipline from the league office. Which — while extremely on brand for Goodell and worthy of criticism — isn’t prohibited by the First Amendment.

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