Colin Kaepernick taking settlement from NFL is huge disappointment
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.