The NFL, which has rarely met a P.R. crisis it hasn’t bungled, has made a wise and prudent move in settling the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion grievances.
The buying of peace carries with it not only the avoidance of a potentially massive judgment and the embarrassment and stress of a full-blown hearing during which owners and executives would have been twisted in various shapes and sizes of sailing knots but also the disclosure of a likely treasure trove of emails, text messages, and deposition transcripts generated in more than a year of pre-hearing discovery.
Win or lose, that information could have been devastating to the NFL, both as it relates to potential proof that the league office tried to discourage teams from signing Kaepernick and/or Reid and as it relates to evidence of people overstepping their roles and/or failing to competently perform the duties of their jobs and/or saying dumb things that would have fueled umpteen news cycles.
Silence becomes a big part of what the league paid for, via a confidential settlement that may never be leaked but that will invite speculation that the NFL — which rarely settles anything — paid huge money to make Kaepernick and Reid go away.
The fact that Reid’s case also was settled confirms that the NFL did this to keep testimony and documents secret, and that the NFL offered enough to persuade Reid, who in some ways seemed to be even more determined to seek justice than Kaepernick, to stand down.
But Kaepernick surely got much more than Reid, because Kaepernick had a much stronger case than Reid. And even though the NFLPA has expressed hope that Kaepernick will return to the NFL, there’s a chance that Kaepernick’s settlement (the terms of which the NFLPA isn’t aware) includes a provision that he won’t seek, and won’t be offered, NFL employment.
For the league, that would make a wise decision even wiser, because the same alleged collusion that resulted in the settlement could spark a fresh collusion case that would apply from the day after the ink dries on the deal. But it also should make a costly settlement even more costly.