Thursday featured a dozen games that didn’t count. Before kickoff, a contest that has major significance to the NFL played out in quasi-court.
As reported by Charles Robinsons of Yahoo Sports, arbitrator Stephen Burbank conducted a hearing regarding the NFL’s effort to defeat Colin Kaepernick’s collusion grievance via the device known as a motion for summary judgment.
No ruling was issued on Thursday, and that’s usually how it goes. The judge hears argument, and then the judge at some point after the hearing issues a ruling.
In cases filed in civil court, resolving a motion for summary judgment requires the judge to view the allegations as true and to consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Ultimately, the case turns on whether a so-called “genuine issue of material fact” exists that would justify a full-blown trial in which competing versions of reality are introduced by the lawyers. For example, a conflict in witness testimony on a key point that would have to be resolved by hearing the stories and determining whose account seems to be more likely to be true typically will keep a defendant from knocking out a case through a motion for summary judgment.
Making the effort more unusual in this case is that the judge is also the jury; Burbank, if he decides to let the case proceed, will be the one to hear the evidence, untangle conflicting evidence, and issue a ruling. The NFL’s likely goal, then, is to smoke out Kaepernick’s case, forcing his lawyer to put all cards on the table in the hopes of making it easier to counter any evidence of collusion when a trial happens.