Can Colin Kaepernick prove what everyone knows is happening?

News has come recently that unsigned NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is suing the league, accusing the owners of colluding to keep him out of the league after starting the protests that have swept through the league. Whilst this is almost certainly true, coming the same week the NFL tried to introduce a rule mandating players stand during the anthem. The question is whether he can actually prove it to a legal standard of proof.

The NFL has been caught colluding against the players in 2012, with teams conspiring to keep salary costs down during what was theoretically an uncapped 2010 season. This wasn’t the most surprising thing in the world, NFL owners love making money and hate spending it, they extort stadiums from cities and have gone to war over percentage splits of revenue. This issue largely boils down to the ever present fear in the NFL of “distractions” which can mean anything from a gay player to a player protesting in a fashion that wasn’t noticed for weeks. However, this does not mean knocking out your fiancée, unless there’s video.

That is the warped way that the logic of the NFL owners goes, it all boils down to if it makes them look bad to certain constituents. In the case of Kaepernick we have Fox News and President Trump among those completely ignoring the reasons for the protest, and paying no attention to him literally putting his money where his mouth is with his charitable efforts. In the past many things have been overlooked if the player was good, such as with Greg Hardy and his sexual assault, Ray Rice until the video of his assault against his fiancée was leaked and Ray Lewis quite possibly killing a man and being treated with reverence by the Baltimore Ravens franchise to this day.

“A quarterback of this quality being unsigned is literally unprecedented. A quarterback of this ability receiving so little interest is even more amazing.”

The Baltimore Ravens were in fact one of the teams rumoured to be interested in Kaepernick, however interest from the general manager and head coach mysteriously went nowhere, with allusions being made to the owner vetoing the move. This is the same owner who pushed for as little a punishment as possible for Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée, ending up with 2 weeks. However, once video of this leaked, the Ravens suddenly released Rice and he was suspended indefinitely by the league.

There are a number of teams that have been linked with Kaepernick this past offseason, however only one team has actually brought him in for a workout, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are an organisation with some of the most thoughtful and outspoken players in the league, however the head coach and organisation are more conservative on matters. Eventually, after saying he was starter quality in the league, the Seahawks signed a significantly inferior player, who is much less similar to the starting quarterback on the team. Over the league as a whole, many reasons have been created as to why he shouldn’t be on a team, from being a vegan, to having a Muslim girlfriend to all sorts of astonishing arguments about his quality of play.

A quarterback of this quality being unsigned is literally unprecedented. A quarterback of this ability receiving so little interest is even more amazing. His fellow players and his former coaches, arguably best placed to speak on these things, have said practically to a man that he should be playing.

You are also beginning to have some statements amounting to smoking guns which could help Kaepernick actually win this case. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, said after smugly leading a non-protest that any players who “disrespect the flag” will not play. Donald Trump used the pressure of his office as President to campaign against protests during the anthem. Mike Pence put many people through much inconvenience to leave after players inevitably protested during the anthem during a game between the 49ers and Colts. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league was continuing to “work to try to put [the number of players protesting] at zero” which is the ultimate tell here. There was also a failed effort by the league to bring in a rule mandating players stand during the anthem.

This decision is being made by those not actually involved in personnel operations. Many owners supported Trump during the election and use the same sort of tactics to appeal to at least what they think the common man is thinking. These owners are now beginning to slip up and show that they are indeed colluding to keep a man out of their league by threatening punishment against future protestors. This is ridiculous when you consider what men have been convicted of or accused of and aided by friendly police departments and still been held up as model characters. The message the NFL is sending here is that rape, assault and sexual harassment are fine, but if you are socially conscious and raising awareness outside of the NFL’s questionable initiatives, you are out of a job.

Callum McPhail

Images courtesy of Tidy Mice Photography via Flikr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here. 

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