This column was updated at 6:54pm EST to reflect updated details on false reports of Kaepernick and AAF talks.
The much debated Kaepernick/Reid collusion case is officially over. A case that ultimately started after the now infamous National Anthem kneeling protest by Colin Kaepernick to fight police brutality when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. He played his last down of football though in 2016 after the 49ers made a cost savings move to avoid paying the underwhelming and controversial QB $19 million in 2017. From that point on Kaepernick has stated that the league and its 32 clubs were colluding to keep him from playing in the NFL in 2017 and 2018 seasons. With that said there was interest from various teams such as the Ravens in 2017 and the Seahawks in 2018. Ultimately both teams decided, it seems, that his current level of play wasn’t enough to outweigh the baggage he brought with him. Which then resulted in a grievance filed by Kaepernick and Reid against the NFL.
Just the other day Colin Kaepernick found himself back in the news cycle after a report came out that he was courted by the AAF to play in its inaugural season. Talks grinded to a halt when he demanded $20 million to play in the developmental league. This reported has turned out to be false according to NFL insider Benjamin Allbright.
People falling for fake stories about Kaepernick and $20mil AAF demands. Whatever you think about him as a player or person, thatbstory isnt true.
Wonder who "leaked" it right ahead of the settlement announcement though?
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) February 15, 2019
The initial report stemmed from Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. Wilner reported the following,
A person with knowledge of the conversation tells The Associated Press that the new Alliance of American Football spoke with Colin Kaepernick during its development about joining the league.
But Kaepernick wanted $20 million or more to consider playing with the league that had its debut last weekend.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither side has publicly acknowledged such talks.
And from that point on it spread like wildfire, and turned out to be completely false. What isn’t certain is why plant false information by an anonymous source? What was the end game?
Regardless, even if the AAF was to reach to him, it probably wouldn’t be something he would entertain as he obviously knew that a good pay-day was coming from the NFL. Because on Friday two statements were released by the legal counsel representing Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, and the NFLPA stating that the case was settled.
— Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) February 15, 2019
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) February 15, 2019
With that said the NFL collusion case has now been put to bed, and the gag order will ensure that Kaepernick nor Reid discuss it any further. This issue has not been a pretty one for the league over the last few seasons. It seemed to divide the fan base and even fractured different parts of the league to an extent. Without a doubt this has been a polarizing topic, and has even driven some to vow to not watch pro-football anymore because of it. While others believe as the day is long that the NFL colluded at a high level to keep the controversial Kaepernick off any NFL roster. So much so that it galvanized a grievance filed by the players against the league which resulted in this settlement. Which was ultimately the best case scenario for both players.
It was also reported by Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report that the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60-80 million range. That amount will never truly be known due the confidentiality agreement, but what a pay-day and a feeling of vindication it must have been for Kaepernick to see that check slide across the table. For years he has stood for something he has believed in, and surely sometimes feeling like a one man island… Kaepernick against the NFL. Finally though he has some form of closure, and surely is walking away from this feeling victorious.
Was this settlement an admittance of guilt on the NFL’s part though? Did the NFL actually lose this battle? Maybe, but it isn’t that simple. This whole saga has not been a pretty one for the league. From a drop in TV viewership, game attendance, and the fumbling of updated national anthem rules in 2018 that were quickly recanted. It seemed like through every step in this story that the NFL made the wrong move and only exacerbated the situation. Finally though, it seems that the league finally made a good move. They ended it. The NFL in no way wanted this case to move to litigation, and be presented in front of a grand jury. It would have been a PR nightmare. They wanted to avoid it to stop the bleeding, and stop forcing anymore self-inflicting wounds.
Simply put this was a move on the NFL’s part to protect its bottom line. The $60-80M given in the settlement is a drop in the bucket of what it could have cost the league if it was drawn out further. So at this point it isn’t so much of an admittance of guilt, as it is to save face. Finally, the NFL made the right decision and it will ultimately prove that a settlement check is a small price to pay to make this situation go away.
No matter what side fans fall on this case, the closing of this book is a good thing for football. Because now football fans can enjoy what they love most… Just simply watching good football.