Over and over again, conservatives and conservative stand-ins can be found begging not directly for their 'first amendment rights' but instead for a version of 'fair play'. PragerU can be found suing YouTube for 'fair' treatment of their content, senators can be found pleading Mark Zuckerberg for 'fair' treatment of Trump supporters on Facebook, and conservatives like Dave Rubin are continually obsessed about their standing in social media networks and their ability to monetize said standing. As another example, many conservative commentators see James Damore's firing as evidence of institutional bias and the building of a liberal hivemind.
In the latest incarnation of the conservative version of 'fairness', in light of Roseanne's show being cancelled conservatives are asking 'the media' for similar apologies from an entire cast of liberal pundits and commentators. The latest nitpick is those that are against NFL fines in the guise of the first amendment are hypocrites if they support ABC's firing of Roseanne.
The thing is, conservatives don't actually give a damn about free speech of an individual within an institution. Held to a 'principle', conservatives will cede all ultimate rights to any business or business-like entity. Churches can choose not to marry gay people, freelance photographers can choose not to serve gay weddings, and bakers can choose not to serve gay cakes (if they own the bakery). In this world, NFL players are merely employees and the league is the institution that is calling the shots.
Therefore this 'debate' isn't so much about speech as it is about institutional envy. The church lost a lot of pull within society as it was busy molesting children for the past few centuries, while government and government-like institutions such as universities consolidated enough power to have enforce all kinds of policy that conservative groups would prefer ultimate control over. The American conservative take on healthcare, for example, is not an appeal to liberty as much as it is an appeal to cede control to NGOs that conservatives control, primarily being religious organizations.
The difference for universities, it is said, is that universities receive public funding and are therefore must be in some sense public spaces. As a result it is assumed commentators from 'the right' have purchased the privilege to appear on campus and speak to student bodies under the purview of the first amendment. While 'the left' at the same time reflexively defends the first amendment on campus as well - as long as it pertains to the ability of a crazy professor to maintain all kinds of radical views on the structure of society and the economy. Both 'sides' of the debate defend the existence of entirely provocative personalities to exist on campus, they merely disagree on who those personalities should be and which lines cannot be crossed.
If conservatives then don't care much about 'free speech' and university speech is merely a pissing contest with no end in sight, who is actually 'correct' with respect to the juxtaposition of Roseanne Barr and the NFL?
First, let's analyze each institution.
ABC is a television network owned by Walt Disney Company. As a television network, they are subject to equal-time rules and different speech codes during what they broadcast. What Roseanne had to say was not on 'prime time', however ABC is undoubtedly a private company, Roseanne's ability to say what she wants on Twitter has not been restricted and her ability to appear on television is not limited - she just doesn't get the privilege of having a prime-time sitcom on ABC renewed.
The NFL is a league of owners that are essentially squatting in public buildings called 'stadiums' that are bond-financed and often owned by cities, not by team owners. The NFL has a parasitic relationship with university NCAA rules, which vets employees for the NFL while relying on government exemptions on labor regulations and cartel rules. Universities as institutions are also careful to stay in their lane and not use their capital and facilities to create a competing professional football league, which is quite convenient for the NFL.
Quite clearly, more public money flows to the NFL. If money and loan guarantees is a measure of which institution is more government, then the NFL is scoring more points as the government-adjacent entity.
Second, let's compare the gravity of each "incident".
Conservatives mad that Roseanne is losing a show want everyone from Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel, Chelsea Handler, Keith Olbermann, Joy Behar, Colin Kaepernick to apologize to Republicans and America's Dear Leader Trump for saying or doing offensive things. Nevermind unfortunate realities such as the fact that Colin Kaepernick isn't even playing right now and many of these people aren't even trying to be the authors of a prime-time TV family sitcom - this context is lost.
In the world of entertainment, the closest comparable to Roseanne Barr is Charlie Sheen - there is a limit to how shitty someone can be and still expect to be presented by a network as a sympathetic figure. There's a reason that the stars of Big Bang Theory can't be found getting into Twitter battles over 4chan conspiracies - they can be written out of the script within an episode. Roseanne Barr is not facing a 'double standard' - she's a real-life Archie Bunker and she wants to pretend it's all just been a long joke.
All the vallicating morons and whataboutery wunderkids that want to even hint there is balance to be found here are creating a sort of deal: Before any one Trump troll can be made to apologize for Arpaio, pizzagate, birther conspiracy, QAnon paranoia, absolutely pointless attacks on people that have little or no role in government and outright tired racist slanders, every single 'liberal' person must first apologize for daring insult the hairstyle of the dishonest adulterous buffoon that sometimes occupies the White House.
The Trumpkin of America know to only do one thing: Strike back at all costs, no matter how much of a pyrrhic victory they may achieve. Trump supporters are the crybullies, snowflakes, and perpetually outraged ignoramuses that they pretend to hate. Everyone that imagines there is continually some sort of 'balance' to be found is addicted to the idea that there is no right and wrong, just two sides of a meaningless political shitstorm.
Shed no tears for Roseanne Barr.