Did the NFL Pay Kaepernick and Reid for their Silence?

 Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel in protest during the national anthem on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel in protest during the national anthem on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

Since he took a knee in a meaningless Pre-Season game in 2016, just mentioning the name of Colin Kaepernick invokes many of the deepest of emotions from any and everyone in this country. Regardless of your position on his personal protest of the injustices and discrimination, which is rampant in this country. I have along with many others commend Colin for standing strong on his conviction. While others were ready to ready to crucify him for his attempt to make the world a better place. The largest group of distain came from those who choose to twist his reasoning for his personal protest.

As the San Francisco 49ers were dealing with their post-Superbowl regression from their Superbowl appearance in 2012, they were severely impacted by the dismissal of their Head Coach, the retirement of All-Pro Bowl players and the lack of leadership in the front office. Like it is with most teams in the NFL, the Quarterback often gets too much credit for a team’s wins and conversely, they often get to much blame when said team losses. This was not much different in the case of the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick.

Though discrimination and injustices have hindered this country for multiple decades now. That recent string of shootings and killings that gripped the nation and inspired Colin to take a knee during the National Anthem at a 49ers Pre-Season game against the Green Bay Packers. “I’ll continue to sit! I’ll continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed.” Stated Colin Kaepernick when asked about his reasoning for sitting during the National Anthem.

“To me, this is something that has to change and when there is significant change… and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to; I’ll Stand.” Kaepernick continued on to say, “This Stand wasn’t for me! This stand wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down in any kind of way. This stand is because I’m seeing things happen to people who don’t have a voice. People who don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard… and affect change. I’m in a position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.”

To his credit, Colin Kaepernick has certainly increased the conversations on race relations in this country. So much so, the President of the United States felt the need to comment on Kaepernick, and those who supported him. The President’s disparaging remarks only added fuel to fire and this confluence of circumstances further exposed the racial divided this country. Unfortunately for Kaepernick, his personal protest has apparently caused him an opportunity to line up at quarterback in the NFL again.

Not only has the NFL received some bad publicity due to this so-called controversy. Teams have been hiding behind the fading stats of Kaepernick rather than that of the fading team, and the 49ers organization he left, as a reason not to sign him as their quarterback, or even back up quarterback. Kaepernick’s joint lawsuit with former teammate Eric Reed added to the reasons for owners not to sign him.

In a shocking turn of events, and surprising to most, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid agreed to a settlement with the NFL in regards to their “Collusion Grievance.” The NFL sent out this following Joint Public Statement on Friday, February 15;

“’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.’”

It is not often the NFL, with their deep pockets and knowledgeable lawyers, settle out of court. Though the settlement isn’t an admission of guilt, it does speak the length the NFL would go pay to keep their internal operations private. The NFL Owners apparently didn’t want the investigation into their internal communications and chose to offer a settlement. This settlement is rumored to be in excess of $70 million dollars.

I truly understand and support the cause Colin Kaepernick chose to protest for. I commend him for his efforts and admire his courage to use his platform to bring attention to this cause. However, this settlement makes me question some things about his position? What was more important to him… this case with the NFL or the cause he wanted to bring attention to? Without knowing the specific details in the agreement, it could be said that Reid and Kaepernick were paid for their silence.

One could say, that if the case was most important to Kaepernick and Reid came out as winners. As a payout of upwards of $60-80 million dollars, is a handsome settlement, if that is, in fact, the number. But is that what this case was all about? With the owners willing to make this settlement, would they have been willing to pay out more? Could they have negotiated funding for annual educational projects, summits, and seminars, within the multitude of inner cities across America? Could they have funded partnerships between the Police, communities and NFL Fans that would ultimately work to unite each other? I’d also be interested in hearing from Kaepernick on his thoughts on this settlement and if he can answer the previous questions. Or did they just accept a salary reimbursement from the time they missed?

It’s hard for me to imagine to the NFL wouldn’t have been opened to using this settlement money to support various community building projects in the various cities they play in, once approached. I would suspect that the NFL has allocated funding for such community improvements initiatives, therefore a pre-planned collaboration could’ve been a good look for both parties. In the eyes of the NFL this small settlement is apparently well worth the silence of Kaepernick and Reid.

Having been celebrated by some as a hero or legend, compared to the likes of Muhammad Ali, for his protest. Kaepernick certainly raised awareness and on the disparity in race relations in America for those who cared to hear his message. Though any comparisons to Ali or any other Civic leader is preposterous! It is time for Kaepernick to follow up with his supporters, and detractors alike, to share his vision moving forward. I know has been working on his “know your Rights” campaign though I’d be eager to hear his plans moving forward and if plans to utilize his platform to remain a leader for social change? I’d be just as interested in hearing your thoughts on this situation with Colin Kaepernick. Please by sharing your thoughts with us by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or reaching out to us on twitter @whatsgoodinsports.