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Volume 25 No. 134
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Local Columnists Defending Teams Shying From Protesting Players

Reid and Kaepernick both remain unsigned as the NFL free agency period progresses

Following the Seahawks and Bengals failing to offer a contract to either Colin Kaepernick or S Eric Reid -- who both have knelt during the national anthem -- local columnists are defending the teams' motives for the moves. In Seattle, Matt Calkins wrote the Seahawks "did nothing wrong" by cancelling a workout with Kaepernick, as it "mainly matters what your fans and players think" for NFL team owners. The NFL is "still a business, and given the enormous potential for blowback within a fan base and distractions within a locker room, you can understand why teams would think twice about bringing Kaepernick aboard." Calkins: "Can you fault them for worrying that a backup quarterback who hasn’t played since 2016 might alienate a huge chunk of their fan base? I certainly can't" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/14). Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty wrote, "As much as we've wanted to make this a political issue, it's not. It's a business issue." Bengals Owner Mike Brown is "in the business of selling tickets," and his is "south at the moment." Signing an "erstwhile kneeler would make things worse." Brown has "shown forever his sensitivity to all matters racial," but this "isn’t that." Brown is "doing what he thinks is best for his bottom line," and he has the "right to protect his product." Nothing is "wrong with asking an employee to adhere to his employer’s standard," even if that "goes against league policy." If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has a "problem with what Brown did (and other owners do), he should work with teams to adopt a policy" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/15).

SEEING A TREND? In Boston, Ben Volin noted the Bengals are the only team to meet with Reid "since free agency began" last month. While he "hasn’t quite lived up to the hype since he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie," he is "good enough to play in the NFL." Free agent TE Julius Thomas, a "frequent protester during the anthem" while with the Dolphins, is "currently out of work, though it might be skill related." S Michael Thomas, who also knelt during the anthem, had "trouble finding offers but eventually landed a two-year deal with the Giants" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/15). 

SAME OLD STORY: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Kaepernick's situation "continues to be the current climate of cowardly and small-minded and discriminatory group-think in pro football." Owners are using the "famous shield of theirs to shield them from the political beliefs of players." Kaepernick might not be "able to prove league-wide collusion in a court of law," but this continues to be a "shame on this league, which once took millions from the Pentagon for displays of patriotism before and during NFL games." The "hypocrisy of it all is rather thrilling" (, 4/15).