Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick has reached a landmark settlement in his collusion case against the National Football League (NFL) for a substantial amount of money. The settlement, announced Feb. 17, was the NFL’s answer to a grievance Kaepernick filed back in October 2017 accusing NFL owners of working to deliberately keep him from playing in the league because of his much-publicized protest of racial injustice and police brutality by “taking a knee” during the national anthem of each game during the 2016 NFL season.
He has not played a game in the NFL since early 2017.
It was also reported that his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, safety Eric Reid, one of the only other players to consistently stand with him from the beginning of his initial protest, has also settled a collusion grievance against the NFL.
While details of both settlement agreements are undisclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, it has been reported that Kaepernick’s settlement amount alone is somewhere in the ballpark of $60 to $80 million. Reid’s settlement is reportedly significantly less.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released this statement regarding news of the settlement:
“We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings, and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”
If the NFL had been innocent of these charges and had the evidence to prove its innocence, it would have fought tooth and nail to crush Kaepernick and Reid. But Kaepernick and Reid came out victorious — not just because they received a financial settlement, but because they were able to stand up against the Goliath known as the NFL and show that you can’t silence the voice of Black people.
There were several other NFL players who joined Kaepernick at the start of his protests, but the majority fell by the wayside. Reid not only stood with Kaepernick when he was his teammate, but he has also stood with Kaepernick after he got blackballed from the league.
When Reid played for the Carolina Panthers during the 2018 season, he claimed that he was being targeted by the NFL via its performance-enhancing drug testing program. After his December 17 game against the New Orleans Saints, he claimed that he had been “randomly” selected to take a drug test for the seventh time since joining the Panthers the year prior.
Reid strongly argued that there was nothing “random” about the drug tests he was being selected for and that he was being targeted simply because he joined in with Kaepernick to file a collusion grievance of his own against the league.
In a statement last month, the NFL Players Association said there was “no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety with respect to his selection for testing.”
Reid may not have proven that these drug tests were far from “random,” but he and Kaepernick were able to hold the NFL accountable for trying to bully them into submission, silence their voices, and make them compliant with its demands to stop their protests.
Kaepernick isn’t the first Black person to have been vilified in this country for going against the grain, challenging the status quo, or taking a controversial stance on issues. If we look at the course of American history, we see that grassroots advocacy, like protests, has been around for a long time and has been used to bring about significant change in this country.
Both civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and boxing legend Muhammad Ali spoke out against the Vietnam War and were deemed traitors to their country. They were even called communists while they were alive.
After Dr. King’s speech in New York criticizing the Vietnam War, other civil rights leaders who once stood with him began to distance themselves and he was heavily castigated in local and national newspapers. Very few people stood with him.
Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title and sent to jail after refusing to join the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War. He ignored requests to be inducted into the military at the Armed Forces Induction Center in Houston, Tex., and was eventually arrested, convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, and banned from boxing for three years.
Interestingly enough, Dr. King now has a federal holiday in his honor and the legacy of Ali is revered today. As it has been with King and Ali, time will also be good to Kaepernick, and the history books will be even better to him for his bold and courageous act.
Many publications have chronicled Kaepernick’s story and have been a part of ensuring he will be forever remembered for his legacy-defining act of strength and courage. He taught the nation how individuals can use the power of the platforms they possess, to be prepared to pay the price for the sacrifices they make, and to learn to endure the criticism they receive in order to be a true catalyst for change.
In spite of receiving pushback from those who disagreed with his stance; in spite of being blackballed from playing the game he loved; in spite of being vilified by countless people, including NFL owners — and even the president of the United States; in spite of everything that was thrown his way, Kaepernick proved that when you stand up for what you believe in, even if you have to stand alone, you can win.
More importantly, Kaepernick showed that you can motivate and inspire at least one other person to stand with you when the odds are stacked against you, and you can nevertheless make a major statement with significant impact.
Now the real question becomes, will the NFL allow Kaepernick to come back and play the game he loves without further collusion? Time will tell, and the nation will be watching.
Jeffrey Boney is an NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com contributor and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Thanks to Boney and the NNPA for sharing this story with us.