The fact that the NFL Players Association hasn’t weighed in regarding the Colin Kaepernick situation has caused some to conclude that the NFLPA has chosen not to do so. The truth seems to be that Kaepernick has asked the union to do nothing, for now.
That’s the message that screams from between the lines of comments from NFLPA president Eric Winston to Dom Cosentino of Deadspin.com.
“We’ve been in contact with Colin’s representatives, and we’ve let them know that we’re there and ready to help with whatever they’d like — whether it’s just some guidance on P.R. or whatever,” Winston said. “I know they’ve chosen to lay low, and I respect that. Every player has to make a decision on how they want the union’s help, and I completely understand that, and that’s fine. The union’s always stood ready to help him in any way that we need to. We will continue to monitor that situation, we’ll continue to do anything that we can to make sure that he has another opportunity to play. At the end of the day, that’s really it. We’re not going to force ourselves on a player. He’s calling the shots, he wants what he wants, and I respect that, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Even if the NFLPA won’t be doing anything for now, it’s clear that Winston believes something fishy is happening with Kaepernick.
“You definitely get that feeling [that he’s being blackballed] — obviously, that’s very hard to prove and it’s very hard to show. But, at the same time, for Christ’s sakes, you have an owner out there publicly saying, ‘I’m polling fans to decide whether I should have this guy on my team or not.’ It’s obvious that owners are scared of it, are worried about it.
“That’s fine. I guess that’s their business or whatever. But it kind of seems a little ridiculous to me. To act like Colin isn’t one of the top — let’s just call it 64 quarterbacks in the world right now is even more disingenuous. The fact that he’s not on a team right now, I think, kind of speaks to that. It’s kind of pretty silly.”
For the union’s perspective, the overriding question is whether the CBA is being violated. Apart from whether collusion is occurring (which as Winston acknowledges would be very hard to prove), any hesitation to employ him due to conduct that does not violate NFL rules would seem to be a violation of the disciplinary rules contained in the CBA. The comments from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti confirm that at least one team has resisted signing Kaepernick for reasons that, per the CBA, should not be a consideration.
But what would filing a grievance do for Kaepernick? Like the upcoming rally at league headquarters, such gestures will serve only to make hardened hearts and hard heads more of the same.