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Volume 24 No. 133
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Kaepernick Could Have Trouble Proving Collusion; Does Filing Mean End Of Career?

Colin Kaepernick may have "trouble" winning his case against NFL owners, as collusion claims such as his "depend heavily on documentary evidence," according to Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. TIMES. Unless he has "turned up a piece of paper, email, or recording in which owners have explicitly talked about keeping him unemployed or reached such an agreement implicitly, he may lose." If the neutral arbitrator "finds in Kaepernick’s favor, the next step would be to estimate the value of any contract he would have received and then triple it to accommodate punitive damages." Kaepernick may "get his payday, but even if he loses in arbitration, his treatment has been a shame and an embarrassment for the NFL" (L.A. TIMES, 10/17). Former National Labor Relations Board Chair and Stanford professor William Gould said Kaepernick “will have to show some kind of communication, some kind of meeting” to prove collusion. He added that collusion "might be inferred if Kaepernick’s lawyers could show that 29 or 30 of the 32 NFL teams had turned him away, and that there was a 'common thread' to their actions." City Univ. of N.Y. sports law professor Marc Edelman said Kaepernick “needs to find an agreement between at least two of them, not just 32 NFL teams making separate decisions not to sign Kaepernick based on dislike of his behavior” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/17). NBC SPORTS BAY AREA's Ray Ratto wrote if Kaepernick has "paperwork proving that the owners conspired to keep him out of football, he wins." If he "doesn’t, he almost certainly loses." Kaepernick and/or his lawyers have to "produce the smoking gun." Without proof, Kaepernick’s case is an "excellent example of well-constructed circumstantial evidence that will amount to little." Ratto: "The bar for this is high, and like everything else in life, it requires receipts" (, 10/16).

TOUGH TO PROVE: ESPN legal analyst Ryan Smith said it is a "really high bar" for Kaepernick to prove collusion. Smith: "He's got to present that case, the burden is on him. He's got to show a clear preponderance of the evidence. ... Doesn't mean he doesn't have it, but that's what he would have to prove. ... It's a very hard case to prove." Smith added it would be "really shocking" to see an actual case of collusion by owners, but it "doesn't mean it doesn't occur." Teams "have the right to say they don't want to sign a guy." They can make these decisions "even if they don't like him, even if they're making them for the wrong reasons, or reasons that seem offensive" ("OTL," ESPN, 10/16).

 In N.Y., Manish Mehta writes Kaepernick's filing will "effectively end his NFL career." Desperation and frustration might have "prompted his collusion grievance against the league stemming from his continued unemployment, but this much is clear: The polarizing quarterback will never take another snap under center again." Kaepernick’s transition from signal caller to "social justice advocate is now complete." His NFL life is "over" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson wrote, "To breach it, and effectively speak out against the shield, was to concede that the league’s door had closed forever." By all accounts, Kaepernick's NFL career "is over." But his opportunity to "challenge the league, and to step far over the line that few have gone near, has just arrived" (, 10/16). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes, "Count me among those who believe Kaepernick has been blackballed because he had the gall to ignite the league's social movement and strike such a nerve." The message is "obvious and not new: Stir up trouble, and you’re out" (USA TODAY, 10/17). FS1's Jason Whitlock said the grievance by Kaepernick has "been part of a shakedown of the NFL." Whitlock: "I've always felt like his play was turned into an extortion play. ‘If you don't sign me, I'll create chaos in your league.’ He has done that. He thought they would sign him to tamp down come some of the chaos and now that he doesn't see that, he has gone the lawsuit route" ("Speak for Yourself," FS1, 10/16).