We’ve all heard by now that the lawsuit filed against the NFL by former QB Colin Kaepernick and current Carolina Panthers S Eric Reid was settled out of court. Although the settlement is wrapped under a non-disclosure agreement, it’s believed that the pair benefited from a significant financial windfall. The origin of the case was the premise that the NFL and its owners had blackballed Kaepernick from continuing with his football career due to his anthem protest and the attention garnered from it.
In general, many believe that Kaepernick and Reid won the legal battle in the court of public perception. Many in sports media speculate that Kaepernick’s counsel obtained information that would have been a big blow to the NFL’s defense against the allegations. The settlement, on the surface, appears to allow the National Football League to save face. However, social media has barbequed them for what many believe was a fight the NFL would have lost in court.
Colin Kaepernick has been vindicated by this settlement, but that’s not the biggest story following news of the settlement. No, that would happen a few days later, when the former San Francisco 49ers’ QB indicated he still wanted to play football.
This means we could very well see Colin Kaepernick return to the NFL in 2019.
Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Gregaros, said that the former 49er QB would “desire to resume his NFL career.” The lawyer then indicated that three teams in the league will make an attempt to sign Kap.
There were moments in recent years where a couple of NFL franchises thought about bringing in the controversial athlete who spoke out about police brutality against blacks and other visible minorities. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens were a pair of teams that were rumored to have wrestled with the idea. Nothing did come of those discussions, as Kaepernick has sat out the past two seasons with the hope of making a return to the NFL.
Is it possible that Kaepernick could actually make a return to the league?
The answer is a resounding YES! This is the same league where Michael Vick served a prison sentence for animal cruelty and still found a way back into the league. There’s never been a player that has been blackballed from the league and welcomed back. Should Kaepernick make his return to the field, the social activist will be trendsetter both on the field and away from it. If history is any indicator, if you’re perceived to have enough talent to get into the league, suitors will come a-calling no matter how egregious the transgression away from the field may have been. To get a better understanding, we would have to figure out what the NFL and Kaepernick would get out of a reunion in the near future.
For the NFL, perception is everything. Of course, their bottom line remains a priority — the league has been besieged on different fronts for missteps in recent years. Issues such as the anthem protest, which drew the ire and attention of President Donald Trump, are among those that the league has attempted to get out from under for some time. POTUS has often chided the league for allowing players to take a knee against the flag, skirting the issue of why players felt the need to protest in the first place. The topic of player safety isn’t going away anytime soon. Studies and findings continue to be released regarding the impact the sport has on players. Then there’s the code of conduct policy. The one that was collectively bargained by the league and the player’s association to allow NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to be both judge and jury on matters involving arrests, criminal charges and circumstances that are somewhat ambiguous to the law itself. As I’ve written previously, the league continually turns a hobby farm into Jurassic Park and doesn’t seem to be learning its lesson.
So you can see why the league would be searching for a win in the eyes of the public. A team signing Colin Kaepernick would be a talking point until the kickoff, with the game hopefully taking priority in the scrum afterward. Will there be more media credentials and attention paid to the team should Kap sign? Likely. However, like most controversies — especially as it relates to sports — they’re only a talking point until the next one rises to the general consciousness.
What would Colin Kaepernick gain from returning to play in the NFL in 2019? The status of Kap is another article that I’ve tackled before, essentially saying that the QB and his cause have grown to the point where he’s bigger than any particular football game. Let’s remember that Kaepernick has not played a game of football for some time now. Picking up a new offense and terminology are hurdles that he should easily manage, but there’s no simulating taking a hit as a quarterback in an actual game. It would be odd to see Colin in his No.7 jersey — a jersey that most likely will sell very well for the league. However, seeing Kap sitting on the bench as the action is being played on the field doesn’t seem like a just scenario for a social activist hero. While getting pummeled into the dirt is no fun, the competitive fire to win each time he steps onto the field likely runs through his veins. No one should kick rocks on another’s dream. If Kaepernick wants to continue a career that saw him come within a quarter of winning a Super Bowl, then so be it.
His message has gotten out there. He is more financially well off than he was before entering the league from the University of Nevada. Is the league is ready for Colin Kaepernick? Kaepernick ready for the league should he truly want to return? For a man that has kept to himself since he became a free agent, Kaepernick will once again be thrust into the spotlight of the media. Will he be ready for that?
Then there’s questions of who he will be as a player. His tenure with the Niners was a complete debacle, yet there are those who believe he would be a good fit among a handful of offensive systems. Kaepernick has more questions around him than answers, setting us up for an off-season that will feature plenty of speculation.
Colin Kaepernick was vindicated in his assessment that the league sought to make him a pariah. Could the outcast soon be welcomed back into the football fraternity? Who’s to say, but the story of Colin Kaepernick continues to play out like a movie that is trending towards a happy ending.