Colin Kaepernick’s next big move has arrived. No… he’s not putting on a new NFL uniform yet and taking to the field. He’s heading into arbitration.
This week, Kaepernick’s attorneys have filed a grievance, supported by the NFL Players’ Association, claiming that a secret cabal of owners has conspired to keep him off the field. How this winds up putting him into a starting position remains a mystery. (Associated Press)
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL on Sunday, alleging that he remains unsigned as a result of collusion by owners following his protests during the national anthem…
Mark Geragos, one of Kaepernick’s attorneys, said in a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday that he filed the grievance “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”
“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished,” Geragos said in the statement, “and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation.”
How exactly does this help Kaepernick’s case? The complex system of rules governing the operation of the league and the 32 teams allows for all sorts of strange outcomes when disputes arise, but I don’t recall a single situation where a group of lawyers was able to force one of the owners to hire somebody. That’s just about the most private, grassroots level decision that the teams make each season and their individual fortunes ride on those calls.
And while the world of the NFL is quite different from the workaday jobs most of us take, there are at least a few areas where all employment is basically the same. In what other line of work can someone passed over for a position file a claim which has nothing to do with discrimination and say that the employer should have picked him, resulting in the firing of the employee the boss settled on? (Even Kaepernick hasn’t dared to claim that he’s being left off the field because of his race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else of the kind.) That’s not how this works, Colin. That’s not how any of this works.
Timing is everything, as the saying goes, and the irony of this announcement is that it was unveiled just as news of a possible opportunity for Kaepernick to get back out on the field may have come up. As Sports Illustrated reports, Aaron Rodgers is going to be out for quite a while with a significant injury and Colin may have been near the top of the list for an interview with the Packers.
My opinion: The Packers should call Colin Kaepernick on Monday morning. Not necessarily to sign him. If I were general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, I’d want to meet with Kaepernick to see if he’d be willing to come in as a backup to Hundley while he took a crash course in the offense. If they’re impressed enough with his approach and his condition, they could sign him and groom him to be Hundley’s backup—and, if Hundley struggles mightily (as he did Sunday at Minnesota) in the next game or two, then McCarthy can judge whether Kaepernick or number three quarterback Joe Callahan gives the Packers the best chance to win.
It’s an interesting scenario to be sure but there are any number of poison pills hidden in there. First of all, would the Packers ask him about the whole Anthem thing and ask him to sign an agreement in advance saying that he would keep his politics off the field? Assuming he was amenable, would Kaepernick actually be satisfied with a position as a backup to a backup? Let’s face it… the man has a pretty high opinion of himself.
But at the same time, this could be a good test of his intentions. Is he honestly more interested in playing and embracing his love of the game or does he simply want to use a roster spot as a way to continue his political campaigning? If the former, perhaps Green Bay could be his salvation. If the latter, then the Packers will have purchased a new set of problems for their time and money.