Wait, Reid too?
How many activists need to be signed before sufficient wokeness has been achieved to play ball?
You can certainly trust hyper-progressive activist Shaun King to give you the straight dope on what star NFL players are and aren’t thinking:
BREAKING: Several star @NFL players have told me they are considering sitting out the season until the de facto ban of Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick is removed and both men are given spots back on rosters.
They aim to get 25% of the players to sit out with them.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 27, 2018
Reid was one of the first players to kneel alongside Kaepernick during the national anthem and has since filed his own collusion grievance against the league. He went unsigned in the offseason despite being a top-10 safety by some metrics and after saying that he didn’t plan to kneel during the anthem anymore. Even so, the only team to give him a tryout was the Bengals — and the team’s owner allegedly asked him when they met about whether any anthem protests were in the cards for him this season, which took Reid aback. He went unsigned.
As for King, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk asks a good question. If there’s anything to these player boycott threats, we should see evidence of it in pre-season workouts soon, no?
If they’re truly considering staying away from training camp and/or the regular season, it will get very expensive. Teams can fine players up to $40,000 per day for skipping camp. In addition to any forfeited game checks, players will be susceptible to an attack on any unearned amounts of signing bonuses they previously have received…
Besides, if players truly thinking about sitting out at great expense later, why not sit out at little or no expense now? The Organized Team Activities are voluntary, and more than a few players are skipping them for a variety of reasons. If “several NFL stars” are thinking about sending a message later, why not send a message immediately?
Players who sympathize with Kaepernick might feel pressure to take collective action on his behalf if he had no other recourse against the league but the grievance process is in motion and he has a star lawyer in Mark Geragos. He stands a good chance of winning, especially given the political pressure being applied to the NFL by Trump. League owners have been candid about that behind closed doors, in fact:
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said Kraft, who is a longtime supporter of Mr. Trump’s. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
The owners were intent on finding a way to avoid Trump’s continued criticism. The president’s persistent jabs on Twitter had turned many fans against the league. Lurie, who called Trump’s presidency “disastrous,” cautioned against players getting drawn into the president’s tactics…
The Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula sounded anguished over the uncertainty of when Trump would take another shot at the league. “All Donald needs to do is to start to do this again,” Pegula said. “We need some kind of immediate plan because of what’s going on in society. All of us now, we need to put a Band-Aid on what’s going on in the country.”
I hope King is right, just because I want to see a drama play out in which a quarter of the league suddenly walks out indefinitely over a couple of players going unsigned. Quality of play would decline for awhile as scrubs were sent in to replace the boycotters; some playoff contenders would start slowly because they were missing key players, leading to frustration in the locker room. Owners would panic and want to get Kaepernick and Reid signed asap to end the walkout but that would only make anti-protest fans angrier. Any team that did sign one of them might decide to bench him rather than further inflame the issue by playing him.
Some fans who resolved not to follow the NFL anymore in outrage after the initial walkout would grudgingly come back after the player boycotts ended, but how many and how long would it take? Trump would milk the whole thing from start to finish because that’s just who he is — jeering the walkout, jeering the signing of Kaepernick, and possibly egging on a fan boycott over either or both even though the league has bent over backwards so far to appease him. With cord-cutting and disgust at CTE already leading some fans away from the game, being ground between the gears of black activism and Trumpy nationalism might leave the league in a state from which it never completely recovers. As someone who prefers MLB and the NBA, I say let’s get on with it.