The NFL has reached an agreement with players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid to resolve their collusion grievances, the sides announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL. As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances,” the NFL and attorney Mark Geragos said in a joint statement. “The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”
The agreement settles a dispute that appeared to be in the final stages of arbitration, coming 16 months after Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, filed a collusion grievance arguing that NFL teams had blackballed him for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequalities that exist in the U.S.
Kaepernick has been the focal point of the most controversial sports protest in a generation. His act led to some type of protest on virtually every NFL team, divided fans, became a central talking point for President Trump and recently inspired a major advertisement campaign by Nike, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan.
Reid, one of his teammates in San Francisco who knelt alongside him, subsequently signed with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers re-signed Reid to a three-year contract earlier this week.
News of the settlement took some legal experts by surprise.
“Every indication I had was that this was something that both sides were willing to go to the mat on,” said Stanford law professor William B. Gould, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. “I’m quite surprised. Maybe the recent signing of Reid has something to do with this.
“The NFL had to look at this as though there was a possibility of Kaepernick prevailing. Otherwise, if that’s remote, I just don’t see them entering into a settlement. There had to be some measure of concern on their part.”
The grievance, which was filed by Geragos and not the NFL Players Assn., asserted that the NFL and team owners “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
The NFLPA said in a statement Friday that it doesn’t know the details of the settlement but supports the decision by Kaepernick and Reid.
“We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them,” the players union said. “We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”