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Volume 24 No. 236

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Seahawks postponed a workout with QB Colin Kaepernick after he "declined to say he would stop kneeling during the national anthem next season," according to a source cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The source said that the Seahawks are still "considering bringing in Kaepernick for a tryout, and no decisions are final." A source said that the Seahawks had "contacted Kaepernick about two weeks ago to arrange a visit to the team's headquarters, but after tentative arrangements were made and travel was planned, the trip was unexpectedly scuttled over the Seahawks' last-minute stipulation regarding Kaepernick's anthem stance." The day after his scheduled workout with the Seahawks, Kaepernick "sat for his deposition administered by NFL attorneys in New York regarding the league's alleged attempts to conspire to keep him out of the league" (ESPN.com, 4/12). In Seattle, Bob Condotta cites a source as saying that the Seahawks "asked Kaepernick what his plans would be for his off-field activities if he were to play football" in '18 and that Kaepernick said that he "didn’t know." The Seahawks were said to "want a firmer plan from Kaepernick about all of his off-field activities -- including but not solely limited to kneeling for the anthem -- and how that might impact football." With Kaepernick saying that he was "unclear of his future off-field plans, the Seahawks then decided to postpone the trip for now" so that coach Pete Carroll and Exec VP & GM John Schneider could "further discuss the situation" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/13).

THE ONLY OUTLIER: In Seattle, Larry Stone writes there are "a lot of agendas at work, some at cross purposes, which is why the Kaepernick story chugs along." It is "ironic that the Seahawks are experiencing the wrath of Kaepernick supporters despite being the only team that has seriously engaged the possibility of signing Kaepernick." Stone: "At least they are open to the idea." This is an "especially sensitive issue for the Seahawks." It is "hard to blame owners for looking at a climate of declining TV ratings and waning popularity, and determining that the politicization of the players is at least partially responsible" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/13). In Tacoma, Craig Hill notes under Carroll, the Seahawks have been "regarded as being as supportive of players’ social stances and causes." However, Carroll said that at the end of last season he "thought some of the off-field activities took a toll on the team’s performance on the field" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 4/13).

NOT HAPPY: THE RINGER's Claire McNear wrote this is as "clear-cut an explanation for Kaepernick’s continued unemployment as we’ve seen -- a bit of cynicism and NFL groupthink laid bare." McNear: "We’re left to wonder what, exactly, Seattle is afraid of that would inspire such a dramatic reversal. Fan outrage seems unlikely" (THERINGER.com, 4/12). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes no matter how "systematically and powerfully the NFL has tried to tell its players to stick to sports, scared witless of jeopardizing its ability to profit off a fantasy," Kaepernick and what he "created by protesting the national anthem is bigger than any backup quarterback job when it comes with strings attached." So while there is "certainly going to be a segment of the public that uses Thursday’s reported turn of events with Kaepernick and the Seahawks to wave their I-told-you-sos at the so-called Social Justice Warriors they despise so much, perhaps the real story here is that Kaepernick remains a man of exceptional principle" (USA TODAY, 4/13).

PROCEEDINGS CONTINUE: In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. notes Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones "gave a deposition on Thursday" in Kaepernick's collusion grievance against the NFL. The deposition at the team's HQ at The Star in Frisco was "attended by Kaepernick" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson noted Jones' deposition "marks the second time Kaepernick will have attended complaint proceedings with an NFL owner," including the March deposition of the Texans’ Bob McNair. At least four other NFL owners are "still on the docket for depositions," including the Patriots’ Robert Kraft, the Dolphins’ Stephen Ross, the Seahawks’ Paul Allen and the 49ers’ Jed York. Sources said that the discovery proceedings are "expected to last at least several more months," but could stretch into '19. As it stands, a "multitude of depositions have already taken place." Other league individuals beyond Jones and McNair have "already been questioned," including Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has "not yet been deposed, but is expected to sit for the proceedings in the coming months" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/12).

QUESTION & ANSWER: THE ATHLETIC's Mo Egger wrote under the header, "Was Mike Brown Wrong If He Asked Eric Reid About Anthem Protests?" It is an "unenviable task" to stick up for Bengals Owner Mike Brown, who is "admittedly a hard man to stick up for." Egger: "But I’ll do it anyway. Because Mike Brown did nothing wrong. ... Even if you think it’d be silly for an owner to try to prevent players from kneeling, even if you’re like me and aren't bothered by the players kneeling for the anthem, even if you simply loathe Mike Brown, can we just admit that there’s nothing wrong with an employer asking a job candidate how he’s going to behave on the job?" Kneeling during the national anthem "doesn’t constitute misbehavior." But it does "constitute something that the Bengals, as is their prerogative, clearly want to avoid." And it "surely constitutes something that could impact things very close to the heart of the owner" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/13).

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league is "pleased" with how the new pace-of-play rules have worked during the first couple weeks of the season. Manfred noted mound visits "are way down" and said, "Those are breaks in the action we would like to keep to the absolute minimum if we can." Manfred: "We like the pace of the game. We think that the continued focus on inning breaks is a way to shorten periods of inaction without affecting the outcome. I was out this week and talked to players individually, and people seem to have adjusted." He added, "Every time we change something, you get writers and their heads explode and get crazy about it and people are worried about how it will work. We go through a little period of adjustment, and the great athletes that play our game figure out how to make it work” ("Get Up!," ESPN, 4/13). MLB Network's Chris Russo noted games are 5-6 minutes shorter than in '17 and said, "Everybody tells me the catcher scenario back at the mound, the conferences, has curtailed a lot of this slow, dead period" ("High Heat," MLB Network, 4/10).

JUMP-STARTING THE EXCITEMENT: In Cincinnati, Dave Clark noted FS Ohio's Thom Brennaman believes putting runners on base to start extra innings -- a concept being tested in the minor leagues this season -- could help fans "stick around a little bit" during extra inning games. The Reds on Wednesday lost to the Phillies 4-3 in 12 innings, and the crowd at the end of the game was notably smaller than at the start. Brennaman during the broadcast said, "Look around this ballpark. There is nobody here. And this is supposed to be -- theoretically -- the most exciting part of a game. You're in extra innings of a tie game. Compare it to overtime of an NFL game. Overtime of a basketball game. A hockey game. Nobody's leaving those games. People pour out of here the longer you go in extra-inning games. All of a sudden, you start every half-inning with first and second and nobody out, people stick around a little bit." FS Ohio's Chris Welsh "agreed it would bring excitement." Welsh: "What happens a lot of times, the energy of an extra-inning game is that it kind of goes into the favor of the pitcher after about the 12th inning" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/12).