NFL Settles Collusion Suit with Colin Kaepernick

In stunning news late Friday, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid’s legal team announced that it was settling its ongoing collusion suit against the NFL.

While the confidentiality agreement means the terms are to remain sealed, Kaepernick is likely a much richer man given the recent trajectory of this case.  Kaepernick won his summary judgement in August, signifying the judge believed there was enough tangible evidence for the grievance to move forward. Reports had also surfaced that a trial was upcoming.

Unlike most corporations, the NFL does not shy away from public ridicule and exhaustion that comes from a case going to court. The league spent millions for an embarrassing series of court dates over some air in a football, largely rooted in reiterating the commissioner’s powers. But the fervor over Kaepernick has been in a different stratosphere and the league needed to extinguish the public relations nightmare that has come from its egregious handling of a man most people with brain cells knows belongs in the NFL.

As time has passed, and quarterbacks like Nathan Peterman and Mark Sanchez have found places in the league, as coaches like Pete Carroll have publicly said Kaepernick should have a home as an NFL starting quarterback, the reality has become harder to deny: Kaepernick was banished from the league for peaceful protesting. Seriously, let that settle it. It never will.

Since Kaepernick last took an NFL field two years ago, fans have consistently protested, and while regular season ratings (games watched by avid fans) have survived, the most recent Super Bowl rating dropped below 100 million for the first time in a decade. Popular acts like Cardi B and Jay Z refused to perform in the halftime show and there was a robust “I’m with Kap” movement encouraging a boycott of Super Bowl Sunday.

Roger Goodell, when asked at the Commissioner’s presser a few weeks ago why Kaepernick was still unemployed, stumbled and bumbled and could barely look at his audience as he said,  “I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do.”

In the time since Kaepenrick first peacefully protested police brutality and societal inequalities, he has become an influential figure who has already inspired multiple generations and empowered young kids, especially in the inner cities. Kaepernick could go spend the rest of his life in a closet at this point and he would unquestionably be remembered as an iconic figure who influenced society for the better. The nearly $100 million the NFL gave to the Player’s Coalition to fund social justice programs doesn’t happen without Kaepernick, and probably only happened as an attempt to buy the silence of those initially arm-in-arm with Kaepernick. Now the NFL is buying Kaepernick’s silence directly.

The backlash involving Kaepernick’s unemployment was not going to organically disappear, perhaps it never will. But NFL owners decided paying a presumably HEFTY price for his confidentially was its best available move. Which, of course, begs the lingering question: What did the NFL want to hide?