Tag Archives: nfl

Colin Kaepernick files grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding against him

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed after a 2016 season in which he began the movement of players protesting during the national anthem, has filed a grievance accusing NFL teams of colluding to keep him out of the league, his legal representatives said.

Kaepernick retained Los Angeles-based attorney Mark J. Geragos to pursue the collusion claim and, according to a person with knowledge of the filing, it will be Kaepernick’s outside legal representation and not the NFL Players Association primarily in charge of preparing and presenting his case.

Geragos’s firm confirmed the grievance, saying it filed “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”

In a statement, the law firm’ also said: “If the NFL . . . 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 and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government. . . . Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.”

 

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union prohibits teams from conspiring to make decisions about signing a player. But the CBA also says the mere fact that a player is unsigned and evidence about the player’s qualifications to be on an NFL roster do not constitute proof of collusion.

For that reason, such cases are difficult to prove, according to legal experts.

“There has to be some evidence of an agreement between multiple teams not to sign a player,” said Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane University. “Disagreement over personnel decisions, as obvious as it may seem to someone looking at this, does not provide evidence of collusion. There has to be some evidence of an explicit or implied agreement. There has to be proof of a conspiracy.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following last season, making him a free agent eligible to sign with any team. The 49ers have said they would have released Kaepernick rather than retaining him under the terms of that deal. He has remained out of work, being passed over by other teams in favor of other quarterbacks. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens considered signing Kaepernick but decided against doing so.

More recently, the Tennessee Titans signed Brandon Weeden to provide depth behind backup Matt Cassel when their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was hurt. That signing seemed particularly inflammatory to Kaepernick supporters who cited Kaepernick’s superior career accomplishments. Kaepernick has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and two NFC championship games and he threw 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions for them last season.

The NFLPA issued a written statement late Sunday saying it learned of Kaepernick’s grievance through media reports and that it had learned the league previously was informed of Kaepernick’s intention to file the grievance.

“Our union has a duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him,” the NFLPA’s written statement said, adding that it had been in regular contact with Kaepernick’s representatives over the past year about his options and planned to schedule a call for this week with his advisers.

Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem before games last season to protest, he said, racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. Those protests were taken up by other players and the controversy over them has been amplified this season even with Kaepernick out of the league.

President Trump called on NFL owners to “fire” players who protested during the anthem, referring to such a player as a “son of a bitch.” Vice President Pence walked out of a game last week between the 49ers and Colts in Indianapolis, citing players’ protests. Trump indicated that he had orchestrated that plan.

Under pressure from the White House, NFL owners are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in New York and might seek the NFLPA’s support of a measure for players to stand for the anthem, according to multiple people familiar with the sport’s inner workings, while also pledging league support for players’ community activism efforts.

Some media members have contended since the offseason that Kaepernick was being blackballed by NFL teams based on his political stance. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and owners were asked about that contention on a number of occasions and denied that teams were acting in concert on Kaepernick because of his protests.

“Each team makes individual decisions on how they can improve their team,” Goodell at conclusion of NFL owners’ meeting in May in Chicago. “If they see an opportunity to improve their team, they do it. They evaluate players. They evaluate systems and coaches. They all make those individual decisions to try and improve their team.”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told reporters in July, according to the Palm Beach Post: “I would sure hope not. I know a lot’s been written about it, but you know owners and coaches — they’ll do anything it takes to win. If they think he can help them win, I’m sure — I would hope they would sign him.”

The plan for Kaepernick to pursue a grievance under the CBA was first reported by Bleacher Report.

“It may seem obvious to Colin Kaepernick,” Feldman said in a phone interview Sunday. “It may seem obvious to someone on the outside looking at this. But collusion requires an agreement [between teams]. Individual team decisions are not challengeable under the anti-collusion provision. An arbitrator is not going to second-guess an individual team’s personnel decision.”

If such evidence of collusion by NFL teams against Kaepernick exists, it has yet to revealed.

“We don’t know,” Feldman said. “Obviously everybody is talking about the baseball collusion cases from the 1980s, where there was a smoking gun. There were notes. There was strong evidence. There may be evidence here of collusion. We just don’t know.”

The NFL declined to comment Sunday through a spokesman.

“No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making,” the CBA says, adding that applies to “whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player” and “whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player,” among other things.

The CBA also says: “The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth … above.”

By Mark Maske/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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President Trump rips NFL for getting ‘tax breaks’ while disrespecting anthem, flag

Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!

More from CBS Sports.com

Posted by Libergirl

NFL Owners and Executives Who Protested Donald Trump Are the Biggest Hypocrites Yet

AS 3.5 MILLION AMERICANS languished without power in Puerto Rico this weekend, President Donald Trump turned his attention instead to NFL players who had decided to take a knee during the national anthem to protest injustice, bigotry, and police brutality in the U.S.

“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!’” the president bellowed at a rally for a special election in Alabama. The owners who fired players, Trump said, would quickly be among the most popular men in America.

Trump directed some of the harshest words of his presidency not at ascendant neo-Nazis or even opposition politicians, but peaceful NFL stars, many of them black, taking a knee to bring attention to a cause they care about deeply. What makes this so unique is that it wasn’t a Joe Biden hot mic moment: It was an intentional attack on free speech.

The outrage was instantaneous. Athletes and entertainers expressed their disgust. Soon, the remarks became a national, and even international, discussion.

Then came Sunday. It was the largest single day of protest in NFL history. Instead of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, 19 teams had about 200 players who participated in protests of some kind; many took a knee or had a seat during the national anthem. Three teams opted not to come out for the anthem at all.

And they weren’t alone: The protesting players were joined by owners, some of whom even decided to go down to the field to lock arms with their players as a form of solidarity. Front offices from team after team blasted Trump’s words at the Alabama rally in official press statements and tweeted infographics — all saying some version of how much they disagreed with Trump’s divisive tone or rhetoric.

And that’s where we have to pause.

The popular demands on NFL executives and owners to speak out against Trump seem strange. Most NFL owners and general managers are unknown to your average American. But here’s the thing: What Trump said about NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem was hardly different from what NFL owners have not only said, but actually done to Kaepernick.

And the team executives have been public about their feelings, though only while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. Mike Freeman, of the sports site Bleacher Report, has been reporting on the intense hatred among NFL team front office employees.

One general manager told Freeman, of Kaepernick, that he estimated a clear majority of NFL front offices “genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did” — kneeling for the national anthem. “They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on.” The same general manager went on to say that many of the other teams’ executives were afraid to put Kaepernick on their roster because “Trump will tweet about the team.”

And that general manager was not alone. Another front office executive called Kaepernick “a traitor.” Yet another said, “He has no respect for our country. Fuck that guy.” Another executive said he would think about resigning his position if a team owner asked him to sign Kaepernick. One general manager summed up the feeling among NFL team executives: “In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick.”

All seven team executives interviewed by Freeman for one piece said they believed 90 to 95 percent of NFL front offices agreed with their harsh takes on Kaepernick. One even said Kaepernick was the most hated player since Rae Carruth, who is still in prison for plotting to murder his pregnant girlfriend.

Most of the comments came a year ago (and some this spring). What those team executives predicted has come true: Not a single team has signed Kaepernick, not even for the league minimum, not for a backup or third-string position. Kaepernick didn’t even get the chance to audition his skills in a workout. Even those teams who desperately needed a starter or an experienced backup, in the words of Minneapolis sportswriter Jim Souhan, “decided that they prefer comfortable losses to uneasy victories.”

Kaepernick has been effectively banned from the NFL by owners and management who hate his guts like they do traitors and murderers.

That’s why what happened yesterday was perplexing. Some of the team owners showing solidarity with their players had made million-dollar donations to Trump’s inaugural committee, knowing full well where he was coming from. And many of the same team executives who were releasing statements and locking arms in support of players have shown their own disdain for Kaepernick — some, presumably, were the same ones who trashed him to Bleacher Report, others simply failed to show Kaepernick solidarity by refusing to give him a shot at playing again.

Trump learned his disdain for protesting players from them. Way before he called protesting players sons of bitches, the team executives were saying, fuck Colin Kaepernick.

Never mind that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, the two best quarterbacks in the game, say Kaepernick should be in the league. Never mind the fact that some teams are still winless with quarterbacks who are struggling through every single quarter. Before Trump said a single word in Alabama, those teams had already shut Kaepernick out.

What the NFL players did yesterday was genuine — real solidarity with one of their own. But what most of those team owners and general managers did was marketing. It was, in the words of ESPN’s Howard Bryant, “performance art.” It looked and felt real, but was as counterfeit as a $3 bill. These owners and general managers put on a beautiful show yesterday, but as long as Kaepernick, in the prime of his physical career, is unemployed, they clearly lack the courage of their convictions. Kaepernick should’ve been on the field yesterday.

In March, one general manager told Bleacher Report’s Freeman, “I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.” Despite the owners and managers, they failed. This much is clear: Colin Kaepernick’s quiet bravery has sparked a movement that refuses to die.

By Shaun King/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Colin Kaepernick: Patriotism and the Owning Class

Colin Kaepernick took a courageous and principled stand last season by kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games. This was done in response to a society that continues to systematically, culturally, and institutionally devalue Black lives. This devaluation is played out in many areas, including politics, economics, housing, employment, and perhaps most notably, within the criminal punishment system. Black lives are routinely extinguished by police in the streets without recourse, in the courts without pause, and in the prisons without hesitation. Entire generations of Black Americans have essentially been destroyed through the “school-to-prison pipeline” and a system of mass incarceration, for which author Michelle Alexander has properly deemed, The New Jim Crow.

Kaepernick recognized this and felt compelled to bring attention to it. He openly protested the national anthem, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to community agencies, and started a national youth camp program to teach children from marginalized communities about self-empowerment. This off-season he brought a box of 100 suits to hand out to parolees outside a Queens (NYC) parole office, has continued to donate $100,000 per month to various community programs, with $50,000 recently going to Meals-On-Wheels (after Trump’s budget cuts were announced), and has and even arranged (with Turkish Airlines) for food and water to be flown into Somalia in an attempt to address famine-stricken areas there.

He is now a free agent, in the prime of his career, and without a job. By all “measurables” (and the NFL is big on “measurables”), Kaepernick should have a starting job somewhere. He is only 29 years old and has a prototypical QB build at 6’4 and 230 pounds. He’s brought a team to the Superbowl. His career numbers, in what amounts to just over three full seasons, are very impressive: 12,271 passing yards, 2,300 rushing yards, a passer rating of 88.9, and a 72/30 TD/INT ratio, which is remarkable for an NFL QB with such little experience. Despite playing for one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2016, he still managed to put up very good numbers in only 12 games: 2,241 passing yard, 468 rushing yards on a 6.8 yards-per-carry average, a 16/4 TD/INT ratio, and a passer rating of 90.7. His passer rating in 2016 was higher than that of 13 other starting QBs, including Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Joe Flacco.

When considering these measurables, his performance record, and the fact that he is in the prime of his football career, it is unimaginable that he is not only without a roster spot, but that he is without a starting job on one of the 32 teams in the NFL. The only reasonable explanation for Kaepernick’s newfound unemployment status is that he’s being blackballed by billionaire NFL owners. We’ve seen this before. Muhammad Ali, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos all faced similar treatment after using their platforms to take principled stands. Kaepernick has made millions of dollars in the NFL, so he will be fine either way. But there are many lessons to be learned from this situation.

One important lesson is how the owning class relies on patriotism to help protect and secure its position in society. The notion of patriotism is one that tells the American working class that they have a deep, common bond with the American capitalist class. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. As being consistent with capitalism, the owning-class minority has driven the working-class majority into widespread deprivation in order to secure more and more wealth for itself. One way to hide this reality is to create an artificial bond based in geographic and cultural nationalism — patriotism.

While globalizing its capital, the owning class calls for “national unity.” While laying off American workers in mass, it airs multi-million-dollar ad campaigns celebrating patriotic loyalty. While employing foreign workers for slave wages, it parades its brand name during celebrations of “national independence.” While driving wages down and forcing American workers on to welfare rolls, it asks that you celebrate “American values.” While systematically exploiting the majority, it demands that this majority remain loyal to its nationalistic ties.

It is not enough that Colin Kaepernick is proving to be a modern-day Roberto Clemente, or that he’s following the path of the great Muhammad Ali; American society (and its sports industries) under capitalism demands that profit remains a priority over people. In order to maintain this, it must insist that workers bow down to bosses; that citizens refrain from questioning their rulers; that everyday people not dare to step out of line. Patriotism (and the unquestioned obedience that comes with it) is a crucial tool for the owning class. To them, Kaepernick’s refusal to submit to this nationalistic ritual was not merely “disrespect”; it was a potentially damaging challenge to this important tool that is wielded in their quest to extract all of society’s wealth (through a docile working class). For this reason, it is vitally important that Kaepernick be taught a lesson. The NFL’s billionaire class is in the process of carrying out this lesson.

By Colin Jenkins/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Defense Department Paid Sports Teams $53M of Taxpayer Dollars to Play Anthem, Stage Over-the-Top Military Tributes

At a time when professional athletes such as Colin Kaepernick are labeled as unpatriotic for refusing to stand during the national anthem at sporting events, it turns out that the very displays of patriotism and tributes to the armed forces on display at those games were paid for by the U.S. government. So when those teams tell the players to stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner,” it is because the fake patriotism is bought and sold like a commodity.

Stephen A. Smith brought attention to the practice on ESPN’s “First Take” recently, as players have come under fire for refusing to salute the flag. Smith noted that players were not required to stand until 2009, and before that time players did not stand for the anthem because they remained in the locker room until game time.

In November 2015, Republican U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona released a report stating that “In all, the military services reported $53 million in spending on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015. More than $10 million of that total was paid to teams in the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).”

More from Atlanta Black Star

Shut up and play ball: Why America can’t handle black athletes who talk about race

Image: Raw Story

Sometime far in the future, Colin Kaepernick’s  decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem will be heralded as another example of a black athlete using his or her national platform to draw attention to the continued mistreatment of black people in the United States. Undoubtedly, former teammates, coaches, and journalists will step forward to present their memories — seen through lenses covered in vaseline so that the edges are softened and the ugly stuff excised — in which they will extol Kaepernick for his courage and for his willingness to do the right thing even though he had to know that his act would be deliberately misinterpreted by those whose kneejerk reaction to any critique of the United States is to invoke the bodies of American war dead.

It’s especially ironic that the military is used to somehow prove that Kaepernick is wrong for speaking up when African Americans serve their country in the military at a higher rate — 17.8% — than its proportion of the U.S. population — 13.3% — than do white people, whose proportion of the population is 77.1% but who are only represented in the military at a rate of 74.6%.

More from Raw Story

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Meet the Native American Woman Who Took on the Washington Football Team

On Wednesday, the US Patent and Trademark Office terminated six federal trademark registrations held by Washington’s pro football team. The PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the team’s name cannot be protected, because it disparages Native Americans and federal law bans the trademarking of offensive language.

Image: Jim Mone/AP

The decision is a victory for Amanda Blackhorse, a 32-year-old member of the Navajo Nation who became the face of the legal fight to revoke Washington’s trademarks starting in 2006. She was leading protests of the name when the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath asked her to become the lead of five petitioners in its case against the Washington football team.

Blackhorse spoke to Mother Jones Wednesday about the ruling, the other professional sports teams in her crosshairs, and her own run-ins with racist Washington football fans.

Mother Jones: So you must be pretty excited today, right?

Amanda Blackhorse: We started this campaign eight years ago. So yes, today, it’s pretty overwhelming, but in a good way. When you’re part of a case that takes years and years and years, you wait all this time, and now it’s finally here, it’s just a tremendous victory. Not just for the five of us who were the petitioners but for the native country as a whole.

More @Mother Jones

Posted by The NON-Conformist