The revolting anti-American anthem protests continue to haunt the NFL.
Colin Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid are suing the league for colluding against them.
Sports commentator Damien Woody also believes the league is colluding against anthem protesters, but Woody and the players who knelt need to accept one glaring truth.
Despite some interest from a few NFL teams, Kaepernick and Reid remain unsigned. Instead of looking inward at the divisiveness they’ve created, they blame the league for their issues.
Woody, an ESPN analyst, jumped to the same erroneous conclusion as the players.
ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody said it is no coincidence that free agent safeties Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro, like Colin Kaepernick, remain unsigned after kneeling for the National Anthem.
Woody said teams can use the “handy excuse” that Kaepernick does not fit their system not to sign him, but argued there is no excuse for versatile players like Reid and Vaccaro.
“When it comes to Eric Reid though, it’s a different scenario because couple things: one, [he] plays the safety position, one of the most important positions in the National Football League. We see how the defense is evolving in the National Football League. It’s a very important position. But, the fact that Eric Reid [is a] very versatile player, played multiple positions with the 49ers — not only was a safety, he played linebacker, he played the slot. He did a lot of different things for the San Francisco 49ers, where you look at him, and you say, ‘This guy can’t be — can’t help our team win?’”
“This is not a player where people can kind of, you know, question whether his skill set has fallen off. There’s no question you look at the film, Eric Reid’s skill set hasn’t fallen off. He’s been a very good player. And I also want to point out that not only Eric Reid, but Kenny Vaccaro, who’s also a free agent for the New Orleans Saints, who also knelt during the National Anthem, do you think it’s a coincidence that both of these guys are unsigned free agents, that hasn’t been signed yet? That is not a coincidence right there.”
The problem with Woody’s analysis is it doesn’t explain why anthem protester Michael Thomas, who coincidentally plays the same position as Reid and Vaccaro, recently signed with the New York Giants.
Woody also ignores the fact that Reid could be a polarizing figure for a team. Reid essentially called Malcolm Jenkins, the de facto leader of the anthem protesters’ bargaining group, a liar for how he handled negotiations with the league.
Reid also retweeted an article that downplayed the success of his then-teammate Jimmy Garoppolo, who had just finished the season playing quarterback at an elite level. Teams pay attention to everything, and they’re not particularly fond of players who take snipes at the franchise quarterback.
Teams wouldn’t risk millions in damages to openly collude against a player. Instead, it’s far more likely the teams have independently decided players like Reid and Kaepernick aren’t worth the trouble.
From Sports Illustrated:
In order to prove collusion Reid must show, by a clear preponderance of evidence, that there was an agreement or formal understanding between at least two teams, or the NFL and at least one team, to not sign him. Each team deciding, on its own, to not offer Reid a contract would not constitute collusion. This would be true even if each team, on its own, decided not to offer Reid a contract solely because each team’s owner disagreed with Reid’s politics or Reid’s position on the national anthem.
In other words, while discussion of collusion in the NFL revolves around various strains of contemporary political debate, the key to proving collusion as a legal concept is not about politics. Instead, a player must establish that there was an agreement to exclude him. This necessitates proof of a “meeting of the minds.” Such a requirement is consistent with the dictionary definition of the word “collusion,” which derives from the Latin word “colludere”. When translated to English, colludere means to “have a secret agreement.” What does this mean for Reid (and Kaepernick)? It means proving that a team doesn’t want to sign a player because he won’t stand for the anthem isn’t enough. That team must have worked out some sort of arrangement with another team or the league.
Reid has sabotaged himself from the beginning. He only waited two days into free agency to complain about a lack of interest in him, and now he’s suing the league before the summer roster shuffling even begins.
Reid appears to be on the Colin Kaepernick path of self-enforced martyrdom for an undefined cause.