Bock’s Score: The League Settles With Kaepernick

Equipped with an army of attorneys, the National Concussion League relishes defending itself in the various litigations filed against the richest entity in sports. The attitude when interlopers choose to challenge the Concussion League is often “Bring it on!’’

You could fill a legal textbook with the winning arguments that left litigants licking their wounds after having the audacity to go up against the most powerful sports dynasty ever invented.

Occasionally, though, the League backs off, choosing to walk away from the fight, fearing perhaps that even the best lawyers retainers can buy might be overmatched. That was the case with the collision suit filed by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.

The two sides settled under cover of darkness at the close of business on a Friday night, the settlement including a confidentiality clause. So only Kaepernick, Reid and the lawyers know how much the league paid to make this suit go away. You can be sure, however, that it was substantial.

Kaepernick ruffled the League’s feathers by refusing to stand for the National Anthem, a singular statement hoping to call attention to racial and social ills infecting his country. This struck at the core of the Concussion League which is fond of wrapping itself in the flag. Just check out its logo and the military flyovers it likes to use to dress up games.

Kneeling for the anthem started a movement that the league, which prides itself in keeping protests under control, simply could not control. Kaepernick’s “take a knee’’ statement spread like wildfire and caught the attention of no less a football fan than President Trump, whose solution during one of his political rallies was to scream at the crowd “fire the son of a bitch!’’

That seemed extreme but the League essentially followed the president’s advice, freezing Kaepernick out of action. After opting out of his San Francisco 49er contract, the quarterback who once took his team to the Super Bowl, spent two seasons waiting for his phone to ring while teams happily signed less skilled signal callers, some right off the street.

This smelled like collusion, a word that sent a shudder through the League and one familiar to President Trump, as well. As the president kept shouting “No collusion!!’’ the League thought he was talking about them. Kaepernick and Reid, one of the last protestors, sued and the attorney arm of the League swung into action.

There were conferences, myriad conferences, trying to decide how to deal with the problem. And despite the presence of all that high-priced legal talent, the League never found a solution. So the lawyers did the next best thing. They asked that the suit be thrown out.

Arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank decided in favor of the litigants. The Kaepernick-Reid suit could go forward. This was not a good thing for the League. Soon, however, worse things would happen. During the League’s showcase Super Bowl, Kaepernick posted social media photos of celebrities and athletes wearing jerseys supporting him and his fight. Others opted out of the halftime show in protest

That was a bridge too far for the League. You do not mess with the Super Bowl. Within days, of that insult, the settlement was negotiated and the matter was settled.

Now we can move on with the Concussion League’s regular order of business – caring for the casualties.  






About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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