Back in October 2017, Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the National Football League alleging collusion with regards to his continued unemployment through the first part of the season. The complaint alleged that the NFL and its owners “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.” Copies of the complaint were sent by Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s attorney, to all 32 teams and the NFL Players Association.
In a statement released by Geragos at the time he advised:
“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports teams) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance. Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”
The filed grievance could have triggered an early termination of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union. Article 69, Section 2 of the CBA “allows for the agreement to be terminated prematurely in the event of proof of collusion.” Under Article 17, Section 16(c) of the CBA, “termination can arise from only one incident of collusion involving only one player if there is clear and convincing evidence of a violation.” This would force the owners back to the negotiating table and increase the NFLPA’s leverage in making a new deal.
The collusion could have been difficult to prove in court for the Kaepernick camp. Several reports circulated about teams preparing offers swirled, but ultimately he was left unsigned. The Broncos, Seahawks, and Ravens were rumored to be in the market for the QB; however, the Broncos and Seahawks could not agree with Kaepernick on the financial side, and the Ravens owner is rumored to have blocked the signing after Kaepernick’s girlfriend posted, what Ray Lewis (Former Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens) claimed to be, a “racist” tweet.
Fast forward to the current year and we see that the Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion lawsuits are finally at a close before reaching the arbitrator. Eric Reid, who recently re-signed with the Carolina Panthers for a 3-year, $22 million contract, had also filed a grievance for collusion when he too had been unsigned prior to the 2018 season.
The NFLPA released a statement on the settlement:
“Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases. We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”
As per Mark Geragos, details of the settlement will not be released to the public, so it is still unknown what sort of compensation the players will be receiving. Still, the last time Colin Kaepernick played for an NFL team was back in 2016. The now 31-year-old quarterback is reported to have declined an offer to play for the Alliance of American Football, but this report has not been commented on by Kaepernick or his representatives. The likelihood of a team signing the QB still appears slim, but the quarterback position has been known to allow for aged veterans to play into their 40s.
Featured Image Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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