The NFL has filed a motion for summary judgment in the collusion case filed by Colin Kaepernick, with the goal of getting the claim thrown out in lieu of a full-blown trial. A hearing on the motion occurred last Thursday, and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has confirmed that the arbitrator, Stephen Burbank, has taken the matter under advisement.
“We’ve gone through hearings,” Smith told Jason Reid of TheUndefeated.com regarding Kaepernick’s claim. “There was recently a motion for a summary judgment. That matter is in the hands of the arbitrator, but I don’t think there is a legitimate reason for why they’re not playing.”
It’s unclear when Burbank will issue a ruling, but with only 23 days until the start of the 2018 regular season, the NFL should be bracing for the possibility that the motion will be denied as the season is about to begin. Depending on the specific language of a possible ruling denying the motion, a sense could emerge that there’s plenty of smoke regarding collusion — and quite possibly fire. And that won’t be an ideal way for the NFL to launch its 99th season.
“Colin and Eric [Reid] . . . should be in the National Football League,” Smith told Jason Reid. “One hundred percent. Do I believe that they are being unfairly targeted by the league? Yes. And that’s not only what we believe. That’s why we support them and why we’ve been working closely with their lawyers. They should be playing football. Without a doubt.”
The union’s strong position regarding Kaepernick and Reid, articulated at a time when the league and the NFLPA are negotiating a possible resolution to the grievance filed regarding the NFL’s Anthem Policy 2.0, could help explain the reluctance to do a deal on the league’s timeline. As Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills recently suggested, it’s hard to resolve the issue over the anthem with Kaepernick and Reid still shunned for their unique roles as leaders of the movement that made players aware of their right to protest during the anthem.
Thus, the league needs to be very concerned that a denial of its effort to defeat Kaepernick’s collusion case could embolden more players to take a stand, just in time for Week One. It also could cause otherwise neutral observers (if there are any) to think that the league is in the wrong on this one.