Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion case against the NFL could have one very significant collateral impact on the NFL. The evidence Kaepernick generates in his effort to prove a concerted effort to keep him out of football could be used by other players also deemed to be undesirable due to pregame political activities.
Kaepernick’s former San Francisco teammate, safety Eric Reid, who initially provided support to Kaepernick during his anthem protests and who more recently criticized the deal struck between the league and some of the protesting players to end the anthem demonstrations, could be the first one to piggyback on the work product of Kaepernick’s collusion case.
Even if Reid was never mentioned by name in any of the text messages or email exchanges that may prove a league-office-led campaign to keep Kaepernick out of the NFL, the basis for the shunning of Kaepernick applies with nearly equal force to Reid. Yes, multiple other players who protested remain gainfully employed. But Reid, like Kaepernick, had a higher level of visibility and Reid, via his vocal objection to the deal struck between the league and other protesting players (and his comments regarding the sources of the money devoted to social justice programs), surely created a greater degree of frustration for the NFL than other protesting players.
The fact that Reid now says he doesn’t plan to protest doesn’t matter; the damage already has been done. Moreover, teams may fear that, once he has another NFL job, Reid may change his mind. Also, the fact that he was so intimately involved in past protests (and the fact that his activities are deemed to be a factor in his search for work) could put him into the dreaded “distraction” category, where on-field ability takes a backseat to off-field propensity to create unwanted lines of questioning for other players and coaches.