After the National Anthem protests, Colin Kaepernick was unable to find a team willing to sign him, and was no longer a part of the NFL.
According to NPR, Kaepernick doesn’t believe that teams didn’t pick him because of the risks and headaches he would bring to the team, but because of bias. He’s hired an attorney and filed a grievance against the NFL for supposedly “colluding” to keep him out.
NFL News reports that Kaepernick started the protests last year to speak out against racist police officers, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His protests caused a great deal of controversy and backlash throughout the remainder of the season. When Kaepernick decided to leave the San Francisco 49ers to become a free agent, Kaepernick found that none of the teams wanted him on their team.
Now he’s claiming that there was a conspiracy preventing him from finding a team. His attorney, Mark Geragos, said in a statement to the press, “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.”
According to Geragos, Kaepernick believes he wasn’t signed on because the NFL owners joined together, under peer pressure from Trump, to make sure he didn’t have a spot on their team. If true it would, in fact, be highly unethical, if not illegal, but the problem facing Kaepernick is that it’s nearly impossible to prove, and probably not true.
CBS Sports reports that a number of NFL executive believes the reason Kaepernick wasn’t picked is that he would disrupt the offensive runs of any team that would sign him, “To me, the protests, all that, it wasn’t even a factor for us. It was the ability to fit within our offense.”
Another main factor behind not signing him on was to avoid the backlash from fans who were offended by the protests. An article on Time gives an insight into the backlash teams have already seen since nearly 200 players protested late last month.
DirecTV has offered refunds for players upset by the protests who want to cancel their NFL subscription packages, many small businesses like bars and restaurants around the country are no longer showing the game on their TV’s, once loyal fans are now burning their memorabilia boycotting companies supporting the NFL, and refusing to attend games.
Brendan Finn, a once devout New York Giants fan, posted a video of himself burning his expensive season tickets saying he could no longer go to any Giants’ games after they protested.
Seeing the severe backlash NFL teams have seen since participating in the protests from fans and business partners, it’s no surprise teams were unwilling to sign on a controversial player who wouldn’t have meshed with their plays anyway.
Any team who signed on Kaepernick back then would’ve struggled to use him on their team and seen strong boycotting from fans.
Colin Kaepernick is having a tough time getting signed to a team in the NFL. Is this a good sign for the league?
Considering this, it’s highly doubtful that the NFL came together to blackball Kaepernick, it was merely each NFL owner looking at what Kaepernick had to offer their team, their business, and simply deciding that the risk wasn’t worth the benefit.