It was announced this afternoon that NFL players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have settled their collusion grievances with the National Football League. Kaepernick and Reid both found themselves unsigned at the start of the 2018 season (Kaepernick was also kept off the field during the 2017 season). Both players are known for their iconic kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence and racial inequity.
All parties are subject to a confidentially agreement in regards to the settlement. Here’s the joint statement, posted to Twitter by Kaepernick attorney Mark Geragos:
For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.
The NFLPA also issued its own statement:
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 a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.
This settlement, which almost nobody in the media saw coming, was a bombshell. And questions still remain: Why did the infamously litigious NFL choose to settle now, after letting this drag on for over a year? If the plan was to settle, why not do so earlier and not let a year of awful publicity linger? How much money was paid in the settlement? Sports-money commentator Darren Rovell said on Twitter, “Given what was at stake for the NFL, I’d guess that the money Kaepernick got was more that he would have ever made in his career if it never happened.” That could mean in the neighborhood of $100 million. That’s quite the neighborhood!
It is worth noting that it is incredibly difficult to prove collusion. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there must be some form of tangible proof that two or more owners, or an owner and the commissioner, discussed barring a player from getting signed. It seems likely that that there was some sort of smoking gun—written correspondence or perhaps a whistle-blower—that proved there was a coordinated plan to keep Kaepernick and perhaps Reid as well out of the league. Given everything we know about the pressure put on NFL owners, from the White House to sponsors like Papa John’s Pizza, to keep Kaepernick off the field because he dared to kneel, the existence of some form of smoking gun hardly beggars belief.
Because of the confidentiality agreement, we may never get the answer to these questions. It must be noted that I am already seeing people all over social media who are disappointed that Kaepernick and Reid chose to settle: They wanted them to get all of this in open court so the NFL’s racism could be laid out for the world to see. But honestly, in a league that has colluded against Kaepernick for over a year and a league that has a team named after a racial slur, if you need open court to show that this is a league rife with a racism problem, then you’re just not paying attention.