By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editor
A secret audio recording from an October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives and players was revealed by The New York Times (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/sports/nfl-owners-kaepernick.html) April 25.
A lot of interesting comments made by some of the league’s owners during the meeting were exposed in the Times report, causing speculation that the audio recording may have provided the evidence Colin Kaepernick needs to prove his lawsuit against the NFL for alleged collusion in his apparent exile from the league.
Kaepernick’s attorneys have already deposed most of the owners mentioned in the report in an attempt to put together evidence to support his claim of collusion. The former 49ers quarterback would have to prove that owners came to an agreement not to sign him based on his protest of police brutality against African Americans.
None of the statements reported by the Times include an owner directly mentioning Kaepernick’s name. According to the report, the room went silent when former San Francisco 49ers defensive back Eric Reid, one of the few players invited to participate in the meeting, expressed how he felt Kaepernick was being “hung out to dry” and left to “become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
But owners like Bob Kraft (New England Patriots) and Bob McNair (Houston Texans) were both quoted directly mentioning their displeasures with players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem in protest, a trend that Kaepernick created.
“You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you,” McNair said, according to the Times report.
Kraft mentioned how the kneeling protest played into controversial President Donald Trump’s “divisive” agenda to split the country.
“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,” Kraft said, per the Times. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
According to the Times, the owners were hell bent on “finding a way to avoid Trump’s criticism.” But most of Trump’s criticism of the league was based on Kaepernick.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired,” Trump said during an Alabama rally speech back in September 2017.
So, if the owners collectively agreed to avoid Trump’s criticism of players kneeling, right after Trump publicly mentioned that players like Kaepernick should be fired for kneeling, is that not indirect evidence of owners collectively agreeing to not give Kaepernick a job?
Owners were reportedly “noncommittal” to signing Kaepernick, even after Chris Long, a White football player, advised owners that “if he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive,” according to the Times. But if Trump’s criticism of Kaepernick truly is the reason behind owners not signing him, that may be all the quarterback needs to prove he’s being blacklisted.