Coach Joe Kennedy was ‘banned from team meal,’ was ‘ostracized’ when he returned to football job: lawyer
Coach Joe Kennedy, known for his successful First Amendment fight for the right to say a prayer on the high school football field in Bremerton, Washington, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Sept. 8, to share context about why he’s now decided to leave his assistant football coaching job in Washington.
In part, he’s alleging retaliation from the school district that fired him eight years ago and then was forced to accept him back this year after he won his Supreme Court battle.
“Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy asked Kennedy to explain why he quit after the first game of the season this year after fighting for his job.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” said Kennedy. “We’ve had problems with a family member down in Florida” who is in ill health, the coach added.
Kennedy and his family have been living down in Florida. He said they received some “really bad news last week” — prompting his resignation, he said.
The coach recently returned to the football field at Bremerton High School after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 2022 after a closely watched legal battle.
In 2015, Kennedy lost his coaching job due to his practice of saying a silent prayer on the 50-yard line after games.
The prayer turned into a professional, cultural, legal and constitutional battle.
On June 27, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Coach Kennedy and his First Amendment right to pray without coercing others to join — and on March 8, 2023, Kennedy was officially reinstated as assistant coach at Bremerton High School.
Additionally, Kennedy said that the Bremerton School District “didn’t enjoy having me there as much as I was expecting them to.”
Retiring from the position at this juncture, he said, “seemed like the right thing to do, for everybody.”
“Fighting for eight years, you get tired,” said Kennedy. “It was a never-ending marathon.”
His ability last week to take a knee again on the 50-yard line after his return to the football field felt like a fitting conclusion to the race he’s been running, he said.
“I finished strong, and I just think it’s best for everybody that I go out on a high note,” he said.
Hiram Sasser, Kennedy’s attorney, also weighed in with thoughts regarding the coach’s sudden resignation.
“Well, coach is a Marine — so he’s too proud, he has too much honor to tell you everything the school district was doing,” said Sasser on the “Fox & Friends” segment.
“We’re currently investigating all the retaliation that was going on,” he added.
Sasser said Kennedy was not given a play card or an assignment for the game, among other things.
“They banned him from the team meal, they didn’t invite him to the coaches’ dinner with the opposing team’s coaches, they wouldn’t give him a locker, his key fob wouldn’t work, they wouldn’t let him get in to certain meetings,” Sasser revealed.
“They were really trying to ostracize and try to keep him at a great distance” from the team’s players, said Sasser.
He said Kennedy was told to stay away from the players as well as the head coach during the football game.
“They were treating him like a pariah,” said Sasser. “They were not complying with the court order.”
“It was rough,” concurred Kennedy. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a picnic.”
Still, he said he has no regrets.
“I’m happy, holding my head up high, and know that I fought the good fight, that I finished the race,” said Kennedy, referencing the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4:7.
In a revealing on-camera interview with Fox News Digital recently — right after Kennedy returned to coaching following his eight-year battle — he suggested that he’s been prayerfully and carefully considering his next move in life.
“Is the ministry something that’s on your mind, potentially, at some point for you?” Fox News Digital asked Kennedy.
“Yes, it is. It’s been weighing on our hearts quite a bit,” he replied, referencing both himself and his wife, Denise.
In a recent statement announcing his resignation from the coaching job, Kennedy said, “I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system so that is what I will do.”
He added, “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case.”
He also said, “We have traveled around the United States. We speak at different events,” he said.
“And it seems like people are really hungry to rally behind something,” said Kennedy. “People need just a little inspiration. And millions of Americans stood up alongside me [during his legal battle against the Bremerton School District to reclaim his coaching job]. We weren’t alone in this fight from the very beginning.”
Kennedy is a father and grandfather.
He also told Fox News Digital that he’s had many family members and friends rooting for him all these years and how grateful he’s been for that support.
Maureen Mackey and Brittany Kasko of Fox News Digital contributed reporting.