(trendingpoliticsnews) – After a legal saga that spanned nearly a decade, a Washington football coach returned to the sidelines for the first time since 2015 on Friday night after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Joe Kennedy, who coaches football at Bremerton High School, was let go over complaints about his post-game prayers on the 50-yard line.
“The prayer after the football game — that was just myself, I would just take a knee at the 50-yard line after football game,” Kennedy told Fox News last year. “After a few months, the kids would say: Coach, what are you doing out there? And I just said I was thanking God for what you did. They asked if they could join. And I said: it’s America, a free country, you do what you want to do. And that’s how that kind of started.”
The coach held his silent, 60 second prayers after games for seven years. Some parents eventually complained, however, including one mother who claimed Kennedy was opting not to play her son due to his atheist beliefs. Another parent, Paul Peterson, whose son played on the team in 2010, said the sight of the coach on the field surrounded by kneeling teammates became a “spectacle,” that put pressure on other students to follow.
Bremerton School District argued that by allowing the coach to pray at the 50-yard-line, it would violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause when opting to let Kennedy go.
After the years-long legal saga, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the coach last June.
On Friday, Kennedy was back on the sidelines for the first time since 2015. After Bremerton walked away with a win, the reinstated coach silently knelt in prayer at midfield.
Members of the crowd then cheered in approval.
In a statement to local outlet KUOW, Kennedy likened the saga to a back-and-forth boxing match. “Imagine being knocked down for seven rounds and being able to stand up for that eighth and final round,” Kennedy said. “We did that. We won, and now I get to finish the race I started before.”