Technically, Colin Kaepernick withdrew his collusion case. Technically, the NFL did not admit that it conspired to blackball Kaepernick from the league after he began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. But nontechnically speaking, the NFL lost. Massively.
The terms of the settlement, announced on Friday, were not disclosed. But it doesn’t matter how much money Kaepernick ultimately receives from the NFL; what matters is that he bested a league that has a long history of pummeling its opposition in court, especially players.
In a way, the NFL had no other choice. Last August, arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejected the NFL’s request to have the case dismissed. That meant he believed Kaepernick’s team had compiled enough receipts to present their case. With another hearing reportedly scheduled for next month, did the NFL really want to let Kaepernick’s legal team expose those receipts in court?
Of course not.
Owners and coaches had already given depositions in Kaepernick’s case, and the details that emerged from those proceedings did not look good for the NFL.
For one, the depositions showed just how much league owners were petrified of President Donald Trump, who had loudly criticized the player protests. According to The Wall Street Journal, Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys, testified in a deposition that the president had told him in a phone conversation, “This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” and “Tell everybody you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”