Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been back in the news recently. The ex-San Francisco 49er is making headlines again after filing an official grievance last Sunday against the NFL. Kaepernick alleges that the league, as well as its owners, has “colluded” against him as a countermeasure for his initiation of the peaceful protest against police brutality that he began in 2016. With the intent of advocating for social justice and racial equality in the United States, the case is based on Article 17 of the CBA or Collective Bargaining Agreement of the NFL stating:
“No Club shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club… to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making on whether to offer or not offer a Player Contract to any player.”
Does Kaepernick have a case?
Though the lawsuit is aimed at the NFL and fueled by Kap’s frustration with not being signed since his release from the 49ers in March of 2017, the case also has a social/political twist. High profile attorney Mark Gregagos (representing Kaepernick) issued this statement regarding both issues in the case:
“My client pursued every possible avenue with NFL teams and their executives. Such a precedent (of collusion) threatens all patriotic Americans and hearkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.”
Gregagos also went on to say:
“Athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government.”
While the President has not mentioned Kaepernick specifically in his statements, his perceived impact on the situation, owners, and the league, as a whole, are evident. For example, Trump posted a tweet on September 27, 2017 that stated:
“Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!”
On another occasion, the President was spotted traveling with New England Patriots owner Robert Craft back in March on a private jet (Kraft is a known Trump supporter). Granted, political parties outside of the CBA bear no relevance on the outcome of the case. It is, however, a definite factor, from a social standpoint, if Kaepernick can prove any of the owners had private talks about him directly or indirectly. Attorneys familiar with the case believe this is a longshot, as the unemployed QB would have to prove that at least two or more owners colluded together against him. (This could be via email, telephone, messages, etc.)
Does Kaepernick have a chance?
Taking into consideration everything we know, proving collusion will be extremely tough for Kap to prove, unless he has some hard evidence against specific individuals. Sources familiar with the situation are surprised he even filed the suit with so little choice of winning. The reason is this:
Kaepernick cannot prove collusion by merely contesting that he is capable and has enough talent, yet is still unsigned by any team. One must remember that Kaepernick was benched during the 49ers’ 2015 season when his productivity decreased. Adding in several lingering injuries, he never seemed to recover from. Fast forward to 2017, though his numbers indicate he is still a more efficient quarterback than 50% of this season’s starters, he never returned to franchise form. At least, not well enough to lead a team to a winning season reminiscent of 2012, when the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, or in 2013 when he led them to the NFC Championship. Those days are gone. However, looking at things objectively, one must acknowledge the role he has played as of late. It is true. Kaepernick could see the writing on the wall. As the protest got deeper (probably more so than he ever thought), teams became more and more distant. Teams began signing players that he KNEW (fans, too) were less capable. Thus, in true Kaepernick protest form, he arrived at this decision. Honestly, what more is there to lose? Absolutely nothing.
Even if the former University of Nevada star were to win this case, he still would not be guaranteed a job on any NFL team. Only monetary compensation would follow. This indicates one thing; this is a man of conviction. He understands that if he never plays again, at least he fought for what he believed in. For everyone who stands with him, sometimes even the most uncomfortable losses turn out to be the biggest wins.
This is about belief and not caring about the consequences. For those who have felt like Kaepernick feels at some point in their lives, he is literally taking one for the team. Colin Kaepernick is somebody’s real MVP…
When it’s all said and done, he will be a legend, remembered for inspiring something way more lasting than throwing a football. You can add up the money, the accolades, and break all the records, but you can never steal a man’s pride. And that’s about as priceless as it comes.