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Kaepernick's Settlement And The NFL


Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and defensive back Eric Reid have settled with the NFL over allegations that teams colluded to keep the two players from playing football in the league.

Kaepernick gained national attention in 2016 for taking a knee during the national anthem as a protest against racial and social injustice. Eric Reid was the first player to kneel alongside Kaepernick. Both eventually ended up unsigned after their contracts expired, although Reid was signed last year by the Carolina Panthers.

Jason Reid, senior NFL writer for ESPN - no relation - is here to explain what Friday's deal means for Kaepernick and the league. Welcome to the program.

JASON REID: Oh, thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, Jason, what do we know about the two settlements? I mean, they're sort of under a veil of secrecy, right?

REID: Yeah. The settlements are cloaked in a nondisclosure agreement, so unless someone leaks the terms, we're not going to know. But it's fair to say that based on Kaepernick's last couple years in which he did not play, he was not able to earn income from the NFL over the last two years.

And in any model that any competent lawyer would use in this situation, you're going to look at his future earnings, as well, because the assumption is going to be that he'll never play in the NFL again. Then there are other factors that labor lawyers would look at in terms of his reputation, endorsements lost.

So when you calculate all those things - look; it's all speculation because there's a nondisclosure agreement. However, given what quarterbacks make in the NFL, and it's the most important position in the NFL, if 20 years from now we found out that Colin Kaepernick walked away with $50 million or more, I would not be shocked.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This was expected to go into a full hearing sometime this year. Why did the NFL settle?

REID: Well, the NFL really did not have a credible argument as to why Colin Kaepernick was not on an NFL roster. The amount of ineffective, downright inept quarterbacks who have been signed while Colin Kaepernick has been sitting out there, it just was not an argument that made sense.

It's one thing to advance that argument when you have people in the media who will basically listen to that nonsense and say, oh, well, yeah, the NFL's right. He's just not good. It's another thing entirely to go in front of an arbitrator when the arbitrator is going to look at all this information that Colin Kaepernick's side is putting out about the level of quarterback play in the league.

Also, the NFL tried to get the case dismissed in August. And the arbitrator was like, no, there's enough here to move forward. My belief is that once the arbitrator did not throw out the case in August, that at that point, the NFL had to start thinking about an exit strategy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. This has played out where Kaepernick said the NFL conspired to keep him unemployed because of his protests. The NFL said that that wasn't true. This seems to be the end of a long battle between the two sides. You wrote that Colin Kaepernick won.

REID: Well, yeah. I think he won for several reasons. First of all, you have to understand what a horrible look this is for the league. At the heart of Kaepernick's allegations about his employment were that the owners tried to ruin his career, essentially, because they were upset that he took a knee to shine a light on racism.

So what the NFL was willing to say is, well, you know what? It's better for us to settle with him instead of taking this to the limit in a full arbitration hearing. And I think when you talk about winners and losers, clearly, he got a substantial financial payout.

He also additionally - remember, his kneeling is what led to the Players Coalition - NFL social justice deal - an $89 million unprecedented deal between a league and its players to fund social justice causes. He also started this national conversation that is still ongoing. And wherever you come down on that, Colin Kaepernick obviously accomplished a lot.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Jason Reid is a senior writer for ESPN's The Undefeated. Thank you so much.

REID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.