NFLPA Files Two Claims On Behalf Of Free Agent Eric Reid
The NFLPA filed two claims on behalf of former 49ers S Eric Reid, an unsigned free agent who "believes teams are refusing to sign him because he has protested during pregame national anthem ceremonies," according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The actions taken by the union are "separate from the collusion grievance Reid and his attorney Mark Geragos filed against the NFL last week." The new filings by the NFLPA included a non-injury grievance "specific to Reid's free-agent visits and a more general 'system arbitrator case' alleging that any team that asks prospective signees whether they plan to protest during the anthem is engaged in bad-faith negotiation." The union's statement "does not mention a specific team or teams in connection" with the NFLPA's claims, but it has been reported that Bengals Owner Mike Brown asked Reid during his visit with the Bengals "whether he planned to continue protesting." The non-injury grievance the NFLPA filed is "based on the union's belief that individual club anthem policies violate the collective bargaining agreement, which doesn't specifically grant teams the right to create their own policies, while the league's states only that players 'should' stand for the anthem" (ESPN.com, 5/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton notes the NFLPA's action "escalates an already tense situation between the players and the league." This move is the NFLPA’s "first legal rebuke of the league over the national anthem policy and a direct challenge over how teams are handling the issue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/8).
FINDING A SOLUTION: The Washington Post's Mark Maske said NFL owners believe a policy on kneeling during the anthem "has to be resolved one way or the other" at their meeting later this month in Atlanta. A policy that would leave it up to individual teams is the "will of the vast majority of the owners, who would like to see the players stand but don't want to have a mandate requiring it." But it would allow an owner, like the Texans' Bob McNair or Cowboys' Jerry Jones, to "put that policy in place" if he "wants players on his team to stand for the anthem." Maske: "Obviously the players might not necessarily believe that's a compromise, but from the ownership side, it's a compromised solution" ("OTL," ESPN, 5/7).
READING BETWEEN THE LINES: THE UNDEFEATED's Jemele Hill noted President Trump "reportedly gave his approval" to invite Colin Kaepernick to the White House for a "series of conversations on race involving athletes and musicians." But asking Kaepernick to participate in the summit "rings especially hollow." There is something to say for Trump "seeking greater understanding of complex racial issues." Hill: "But we’re a long way from giving Trump a cookie, as it can’t be forgotten how much Trump seemed to take a special delight in helping to torpedo Kaepernick’s NFL career." Trump "hijacked Kaepernick’s original message ... and helped turn Kaepernick into public enemy number one" (THEUNDEFEATED.com, 5/7).