High School Football Coach Returns to Sideline after Supreme Court Backs His Post-Game Prayers


In the state of Washington, an assistant high school football coach who was embroiled in a controversy over his public post-game prayers, has returned to the sideline, protected by the Constitution as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The protracted legal battle lasting seven years has taken its toll on Joe Kennedy, instilling within him a sense of hesitance at the prospect of resuming his old practice of kneeling in public prayer on the field whilst under scrutiny.

In preparation for his first game since 2015, Kennedy is apprehensive about the expectation lying heavy on his shoulders for him to once again take to his knee at the conclusion of the match in Bremerton High School’s Memorial Stadium. He expressed his concern about potential negative reactions towards bringing religion back into the public sphere of schools.

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Kennedy’s trouble started when the school district asked him to keep his praying subdued or away from students. As Kennedy pressed on with his practice, he was put on leave, and eventually, his contract was not renewed. School officials justified their actions by stating they were wary of inadvertently suggesting government’s endorsement of religion, which would be in violation of the separation of church and state.

Kennedy’s struggle to reclaim his job escalated and sparked a nationwide debate – a clash of the religious liberties of government employees against principles protecting students from religious coercion. His legal fight consistently met defeat until the U.S. Supreme Court, controlled by a conservative majority, ruled in his favor. Justice Neil Gorsuch argued for respect, tolerance, and against censorship and suppression for both, religious and nonreligious views.

The legal feud disrupted Kennedy’s life profoundly and unexpectedly. He authored a book, “Average Joe,” scheduled for release in October, and attended a Trump rally in 2016. He recently dined with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a GOP presidential hopeful seeking Kennedy’s loyalty and support on the campaign trail.

With his unpredictable future unfolding, the 54-year-old Kennedy navigates the balance between his return to his less than $5,000 part-time coaching job in his state of Washington, and his life in Florida with his wife. The boundaries of his commitment to stay on as coach at the Bremerton High School still remain undefined.

Even though he is back in the fray, leading his players through catching and tackling drills, his commitment is still undecided. The Bremerton School District hopes to move past this nearly 8-year long legal distraction and refocus on providing quality education to its students.

The response to Kennedy’s return remains uncertain. In 2015, the Satanic Temple of Seattle attended a varsity football game at Bremerton High School, resulting in a series of confrontations. Kennedy, however, remains focused on the immediate task at hand, deciding his path based on what transpires after Friday’s game.

He muses on the possibility of a future in ministry, but for now, lies in wait and watches the play of events. The churning tides of public sentiment, the echoes of his past legal battles, and the roaring call of the gridiron will determine the course of this Average Joe’s extraordinary journey.