There was a familiar face sitting near the Golden State Warriors’ bench during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night in Portland.
Fans and some media members spotted former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting next to the scorer’s table:
Colin Kaepernick at the game pic.twitter.com/VRBT0qwFTZ
— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) May 21, 2019
— Dylan (@DylansRawTake) May 21, 2019
Kaepernick, best known for protesting during the national anthem in the 2016 NFL season to bring attention to social inequality and racial injustice, has mostly avoided headlines the last few months. He and Eric Reid settled their collusion case with the NFL in February, leading to reports that he would likely make an NFL return in the future.
The 31-year-old was a star basketball player in high school, in addition to his success in baseball and football.
Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid continues to stand by Colin Kaepernick.
Reid responded Friday to a Q&A on the Panthers’ website asking if Carolina would sign Kaepernick. Writer Bill Voth characterized it as unlikely, stating that there are questions to what Kaepernick can do while citing him losing his job to Blaine Gabbert in 2016 as evidence that he had slipped as a quarterback.
Reid strongly objected to this characterization and defended his former San Francisco teammate on Twitter.
He didn’t lose his job to Blaine. He was coming off of three surgeries and needed more time to heal. Once healed, he started again. No more false narratives in 2019 please. He’s in the best shape of his life, and ready to help win a championship. https://t.co/8CTlgDrMYR
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) February 22, 2019
PS I have his number if y’all need it! pic.twitter.com/KV8TwfPDxB
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) February 22, 2019
Reid and Kaepernick are forever linked as the two players who prominently knelt during the national anthem early on. Now that the former San Francisco quarterback has settled his collusion case against the NFL, there is some belief that a return to the league is more likely than ever. Reid, for one, is quite eager to see it happen, but it remains unclear how realistic it is and how interested any teams would be.
Colin Kaepernick and the NFL put their differences aside (at least from a legal standpoint) last week when they agreed to a massive settlement. Now that the quarterback is no longer suing the league, could the next step be him returning to the field?
According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, Kaepernick’s chances of being signed by an NFL team are “higher now than at any time since he opted out of his deal with the Niners almost two years ago.” The settlement has a lot to do with that, but Freeman also notes that NFL owners no longer fear repercussions from Donald Trump. Even after the president blasted the league and its players for disrespecting the American flag, NFL ratings were better in 2018 than they were the previous season. That has eased the concerns of team owners who might consider signing a polarizing player like Kaepernick.
Kaepernick’s lawyer recently predicted either the Patriots or the Panthers will sign the 31-year-old, but Freeman says the chances of Kaepernick winding up in New England are virtually zero. Carolina, however, is an intriguing option given Cam Newton’s shoulder troubles and the fact that they recently signed Eric Reid to a contract extension.
While Kaepernick’s role in national anthem protests has obviously played a huge role in him remaining unsigned, he has now been out of football for two years. That will hurt his chances even further. If Kaepernick is still unable to find work, the reported financial details of his settlement with the NFL are a reminder that he will have no problem putting food on the table.
Was the settlement between Colin Kaepernick and the NFL the first step in the quarterback’s return to the field? It sounds like that may be the case.
Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos was on CNN Saturday and predicted that a team will step up and sign his client. He named the Carolina Panthers, whose starter Cam Newton is coming off shoulder surgery, as one contender. He mentioned the New England Patriots as another possibility.
Colin Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos told CNN he is predicting Kaepernick will sign a contract with either the Carolina Panthers or the New England Patriots. Geragos also referenced a possible third team but never named the team. pic.twitter.com/9Kre3BfNak
— Jill Martin (@ByJillMartin) February 17, 2019
Geragos mentioned a third team as a possibility, saying Kaepernick’s former coach could be interested. That one is harder to figure out considering both Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly are back in college, though he may be talking about one of the assistants.
What would make the Panthers a fit? They already showed a willingness to look beyond the kneeling by signing Eric Reid, plus they could use a solid backup with Newton returning from his shoulder injury. The Patriots have also shown a great willingness in the past to sign controversial players, like Tim Tebow and Chad Johnson to name a few. If anyone can keep the media in line and handle the situation well, it’s Bill Belichick. But would they want that when they’re coming off a Super Bowl win? Maybe not.
Kaepernick’s return will be highly intriguing. He has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season and on Friday announced that he had settled his collusion case with the league.
LeBron James is one of the most powerful voices in sports, and he’s not afraid to speak about social issues, so it’s no real surprise to hear him back Colin Kaepernick.
James weighed in on Kaepernick’s NFL settlement Saturday morning, and said that many of his critics and detractors weren’t paying attention to the real message he was trying to send.
“I stand with Kap. I kneel with Kap. I feel like what he was talking about nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody wanted to really understand where he was coming from.” pic.twitter.com/TUjpgK8JHj
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 16, 2019
Kaepernick has found wide support in the NBA community. It’s not at all surprising that James would back him and not be afraid to speak publicly about it.
Kaepernick settled his collusion case against the NFL on Friday, with rumors indicating he got a huge sum from the league. Unfortunately, we’ll likely never know the extent of what might have turned up in said case.
Colin Kaepernick and the NFL announced on Friday that they have settled the collusion case the quarterback and his former teammate, Eric Reid, had filed against the league. The news is nothing short of shocking, and the acceptance of a settlement is a massive disappointment for those who believed Kaepernick was taking a stand against the league.
Kaepernick and attorney Mark Geragos filed a lawsuit against the NFL in Oct. 2017 in which they alleged there was collusion by the league and its owners to keep the quarterback from being offered a contract. Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 season and caused a nationwide controversy by demonstrating during the national anthem, first by sitting down for it and later by kneeling. His protest was aimed to bring attention to issues such as police brutality and social/racial injustice.
After his kneeling drew so much attention, sparking a movement that was followed by other athletes, and lasting into the 2017 season and beyond, Kaepernick was never offered another NFL job again. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season despite being more qualified as a player than many other quarterbacks who were on rosters.
That led Kaepernick and Geragos to file the lawsuit, which Reid, who kneeled alongside Kaepernick while with the 49ers, later joined.
The crux of the case was simple: Kaepernick and his legal team had to prove that the NFL owners had collectively organized to keep the quarterback out of the league. They sought text messages, emails, and all sorts of communication they could get their hands on that would prove there was a premeditated effort to keep Kaepernick from getting a job with one of the league’s teams. They were trying to prove that each team was not merely acting independently when deciding that Kaepernick was not a proper fit for them, but rather that there was some premeditated effort by owners/the commissioner to keep the quarterback out of the league because of what he signified.
The case seemed to be progressing well, with Geragos signifying they found someone who was ratting out the NFL. On top of that, the arbitrator said in August that the case could proceed to trial rather than be dismissed as the NFL sought.
And then on Friday, five and a half months after being cleared to proceed to a trial, the two sides announced they had agreed to a settlement. The settlement includes a confidentiality agreement, which means whatever evidence Geragos and his team dug up will not be made public. We will never get to the bottom of the case, we won’t learn which teams colluded against Kaepernick, and we won’t find out what efforts were made to keep him from being signed. In essence, we won’t get the truth.
The settlement of the case seems like a tacit acknowledgment of guilt from the NFL. After all, if they didn’t have anything to cover up, if they had no reason to fear things emerging in a trial, why would they settle? They are known for being especially litigious and willing to take matters to court, so this course of action is unusual for them.
But for a guy whose motto supposedly was “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” this rings of being disingenuous. What’s the message Kaepernick is sending in the end? Stop standing up for your principles as long as the money is right? You don’t need to break down a system trying to silence outspoken athletes as long as you’re getting paid enough?
An issue that was supposedly at the heart of the fracture within the Players Coalition was some players wanting to take a payout from the league to end the kneeling, and use the money to make a change in their communities, whereas others like Reid and Kaepernick wanted to fight until the end and not settle. And here Kaepernick is, not going to trial to show the world what the NFL had done, what actions league officials and owners had taken, but instead agreeing to a confidential settlement.
At the end of the day, after standing up for what he believed was right and being a societal leader, Kaepernick is accepting hush money. Those who backed him, believed in him, bought into his movement, deserved much more. They deserved to know the truth, and he has robbed them of that.
The biggest question many had after learning of Colin Kaepernick’s settlement with the NFL was what the league gave him to put the entire thing behind them. While we still don’t know for sure, we appear to have our first guess.
According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, NFL officials believe the league paid out something between $60 million and $80 million as part of the settlement.
Number NFL team officials are speculating to me is the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 to $80 million range.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) February 15, 2019
We may never know for sure, as a confidentiality agreement is part of the settlement, which was announced Friday. It’s also possible that there were other non-financial stipulations either side agreed to. That said, if these numbers are correct, it’s a pretty clear signal that the NFL really didn’t want to go to discovery. If they weren’t scared of losing the case, they were, at minimum, clearly concerned that damaging or embarrassing revelations could be made public as proceedings continued.
The big question is what Kaepernick’s incentive was to settle. Obviously his financial payout may have been huge, but he may have had a chance to win his case, or at least shed some light on some of the league practices he seemed interested in exposing. With the confidentiality agreement, the latter will not happen now.