Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid won a settlement from the NFL this month regarding their collusion complaint. In their complaint, the two men alleged that the NFL conspired to keep the two from receiving a contract because of their practice of kneeling during the national anthem as a way of protesting African American treatment at the hands of police. The settlement was spurred by an arbitrator’s denial of a motion to dismiss by the NFL–which meant that Kaepernick and Reid’s attorney could go on a fishing expedition in NFL records, subpoenaing everything and everyone. Provisions in the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the state of current legal theory meant that winning a collusion case was highly unlikely. Neverthless the arbitrator agreed with the plaintiff’s attorneys that comments from President Trump and several NFL owners provided a sufficient pretext for discovery and trial.
Thus the NFL paid off Kaepernick and Reid to go away. How much is a mystery–if I had to guess it was more for Kaepernick than Reid as Kaepernick hasn’t played in two years and Reid has a contract with Carolina. Say upwards of $21M for Kaepernick (two years of earnings) and a few million for Reid.
Predictably, many outlets crowed over Kaepernick and Reid’s settlement–proof positive of striking a blow for social justice in the face of pressure from powerful white men.
Except that whites are killed more than any other ethnic group by the police–roughly one in every two killings. Ok, lets take a different look at the statistics. Blacks only make up 12% of the population, so adjusted for race this means that blacks are 3.5 times as likely to be killed by police. Except if one adjusts for the homicide rate–blacks commit more homicides as a percentage than any other ethnic group–the likelihood of whites being killed by a police officer is still 1.7 times more likely than for that of blacks.
Some will say that these kind of statistical gymnastics miss the point. When unarmed black suspects are shot by white officers, a highly publicized spate of which (including incidents of being shot in the back) occurred during the year that Kaepernick and Reid first started kneeling during the national anthem, there is an un-addressed social injustice.
I agree. But I would point out that people of every race are shot unarmed by police every year. It is this problem that must be fixed, and in the fixing of the problem we should be united in our love for our country and our joint responsibility to fix problems as they arise. So all should stand tall during the national anthem, and those with a complaint should march right to the podium afterwards to bellow their anger.
Instead, Kaepernick and Reid, two wealthy privileged men, have selfishly drawn attention to themselves by smearing their country rather than help solve problems. And to some extent from their perspective the tactic has worked–Kaepernick has been awarded a lucrative advertising deal from Nike and been peppered with social justice awards and free publicity. Reid has enjoyed less publicity and notoriety, but his continued stint in the NFL has allowed him to grandstand while Kaepernick sits on the sideline. And now both men have received a confidential settlement from the NFL. Kaepernick and Reid, 1; their country, 0. Good job, men! What’s next, wearing Fidel Castro shirts? Wait…
The settlement does prove one thing, however. The NFL is a business, not a political institution. Rather than endure leaks of salacious material uncovered from discovery, the NFL ran the value of the publicity damage and paid the two players a fraction of that damage. They did this knowing that most media outlets would give Kaepernick and Reid the moral high ground following a settlement, which in itself is publicly damning. It also assumes that Kaepernick and Reid do not break confidentiality, and it assumes that the two men do not do more to sustain a narrative that the NFL is safe haven for unpatriotic selfish assholes.