David Stern sides with Hope Solo on Sweden, dismisses Kaepernick protests

david stern
Quartz/Oliver Staley

David Stern has, in his retirement, apparently become less tight-lipped when it comes to matters of business and sports.

In a recent forum at Columbia Business School, Stern spoke about myriad topics including USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and New England Patriots star Tom Brady.

On stage with Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer, Stern sided with Solo about her calling Sweden “cowards” after a USWNT loss on PKs in the Olympics.

From Quartz:

When Gulati discussed his decision to suspend goalkeeper Hope Solo, in part for her critical remarks after the US women’s national team lost to a defensively minded Swedish team, Stern defended Solo. “I thought Hope Solo was right,” he said. “They were a bunch of cowards.”

The topics of the discussion were apparently wide-ranging, with Stern also speaking toward the NFL. He joked about people being naive when it came to Tom Brady’s deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship Game, and then turned to 49ers QB Kaepernick.

Mostly, Stern did not view Kaepernick’s protest to be a constitutional right, but one granted by the contract between the NFLPA and the league.

Stern suspended NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for a similar protest in 1996, but said Kaepernick’s case was different because he had the permission of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and because president Obama said he had a constitutional right to speak out.

“Wrong!” Stern exclaimed. “He has the rights his union collectively bargained for him, but I guess Obama didn’t take a class in labor law.”

Stern also railed against corporate ethics, Facebook, and an overall lack of cynicism from people when it came to sports.