Tag Archives: nfl

Colin Kaepernick a finalist for ‘TIME’ Person of Year

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Image: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick was announced Monday as one of 10 candidates for TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017.

Kaepernick, who last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, joins President Donald Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller and the #MeToo movement, among others, on the short list for recognition. Each year, the magazine strives to identify “the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year, for better or for worse.”

Trump was recognized by the magazine in 2016, and German chancellor Angela Merkel was its 2015 recipient. TIME will announce its latest “Person of the Year” on Wednesday.

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem last year, describing it as a means of protesting police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. He became a free agent in March and has yet to sign with an NFL team this season, prompting him to file a collusion grievance against NFL owners.

More from USA Today

Posted by Libergirl

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NFL, Players Coalition reach accord to provide nearly $90 million to aid activism; anthem protests unresolved

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) is a leader of a group of NFL players discussing a deal with the league regarding its support of player activism. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

NFL player representatives and league officials reached an agreement Wednesday night for the league to provide financial support to players’ community-activism endeavors, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

The tentative agreement does not directly address the ongoing protests by players during the national anthem, multiple people familiar close to the situation said earlier in the evening.

Owners have been hopeful that an agreement with the players on activism would lead all players to voluntarily stand for the anthem. But divisions on the players’ side that became evident earlier Wednesday could lead to the protests continuing even with the deal in place.

The tentative agreement is subject to approval by NFL owners. The owners are scheduled to meet in December in Dallas but might not take up the issue until the annual league meeting in March.

The league and teams are to provide approximately $90 million between the onset of the arrangement and 2023 to social causes deemed important by the players, focused in particular on African American communities, a person familiar with the talks confirmed earlier Wednesday. The terms of the league’s proposal were first reported Wednesday morning by ESPN.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been active in the discussions and has been dealing directly with players, especially those in a group known as the Players Coalition led by Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Earlier Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas announced they were withdrawing from the Players Coalition, citing differences with Jenkins and Boldin about how discussions with the league were proceeding.

Reid is closely associated with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the protest movement last season. Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem before games to protest the treatment of African Americans by police in the United States.

Reid joined Kaepernick in those protests and is among the players who have continued to protest during the anthem this season, drawing harsh criticism by President Trump and some fans. The defections of Reid and Thomas from the group of players dealing with the league seem to greatly reduce or eliminate the chances that the agreement will end the players’ protests entirely.

Representatives of the players met with owners and NFL leaders in October at the NFL’s offices in New York. The owners then held their regularly scheduled fall meeting and left without enacting a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem.

Goodell and owners said then that they want players to stand for the anthem. But they said that most owners were not ready to take action to require it. Goodell and the owners said they were focused instead on their discussions with the players about activism. They cautioned, however, that there was no explicit or implied agreement that league support of players’ activism necessarily would lead to all players standing for the anthem.

Some owners believe that, if the protests last through season’s end, owners will act during the offseason to revert next season to the league’s pre-2009 policy of players remaining in the locker room before games until after the anthem is played, according to multiple people close to the situation.

By Mark Maske/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

The NFL Wants to Block Tax Reform Because It Would End a Common Stadium Subsidy Cities have issued more than $13 billion in untaxed bonds for stadium projects since 2000, and the NFL wants to keep the cronyism flowing.

The tax reform bill unveiled this week by House Republicans would do away with the federal tax exemption for municipal bonds, commonly claimed by states and cities to subsidize the construction of stadiums.

The National Football League is gearing up big time to lobby against it, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Municipal bonds were made tax exempt in 1986 as a way to encourage investors to buy them at lower interest rates, saving cities money when they need to build new infrastructure or make expensive repairs. While the bonds are designed for building roads, sewer systems, and schools, cities have issued more than $13 billion in untaxed bonds for stadium projects since 2000, according to a recent Brookings Institute estimate.

That tax break is “an unseen subsidy,” according to Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross, who is critical of using public money for stadiums. “It’s a tax break that we never get to vote on, and it’s one that don’t even think about and don’t see,” he told Reason in June.

There’s bipartisan support for directing the exemption specifically for public infrastructure, rather than multi-billion dollar playgrounds for multi-millionaire athletes and billionaire franchise owners. Sens. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) and James Lankford (R–Okla.) in June introduced an independent piece of legislation to prohibit local officials from using municipal bonds for stadium projects.

If that prohibition becomes law—either on its own or as part of a revamped federal tax code—those “unseen subsidies” would go away and the cost of those projects would increase. So, too, would public opposition to spending public money on stadiums.

“It’s something that the NFL will oppose because we believe that the construction of new stadiums and renovations of stadiums are economic drivers in local communities,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart tells the Journal‘s Andrew Beaton.

The 32 team owners who make up “the NFL” in this context are allowed to believe whatever they want, but the idea that new stadiums or renovations are economic drivers is not supported by facts. A landmark study published in 2000 by the Journal of Economic Perspectives reviewed 36 major metropolitan areas that had built stadiums for professional sports teams and found that, on the whole, they represented a drag on the economy.

More recently, a 2015 study by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, found that “NFL stadiums do not generate significant local economic growth, and the incremental tax revenue is not sufficient to cover any significant financial contribution by the city.”

Local governments, however, continue to put taxpayers on the hook for football stadiums. In his book The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America, Gregg Easterbrook, a journalist and longtime critic of taxpayer subsidies for the sport, says taxpayers have covered more than 70 percent of the total cost of NFL stadiums built in the past two decades.

Maybe we’re heading toward the end of that tradition. President Donald Trump, in between tweeting criticisms of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police abuse, has whacked the NFL for taking advantage of special loopholes in the tax code.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump tweeted in October.

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

President Barack Obama proposed eliminating tax exemptions for municipal bonds attached to stadium projects as part of his 2015 budget plan, but Congress didn’t bite. Maybe, as part of a comprehensive tax reform bill, that component has a better chance of reaching Trump’s desk.

For decades, the NFL operated as a tax-exempt entity—insert joke here about football being a religion in much of America—because it was technically registered as a nonprofit. It got nonprofit status from the IRS during World War II, even though no one seemed to know exactly what the league’s “nonprofit mission” actually was, because (and this is true) the IRS said it had misplaced the NFL’s application and the NFL said it, too, had lost those records.

The loophole for municipal bonds is also kind of an accident, created in the 1980s when Congress voted to close a previous loophole for federal tax-exempt private revenue bonds that had been used to fund stadium projects. Local governments simply turned to tax-exempt municipal bonds instead, as Patrick Hruby of Vice Sports has pointed out.

The league voluntarily gave up its nonprofit tax status in 2015, partially because the special tax status required the league to disclose how much it was paying top executives, but mostly as a public relations maneuver.

When it comes to get subsidies for new stadiums, though, don’t expect the crony capitalist NFL give up that easily.

By Eric Boehm/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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

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