NFL IN THE CROSS HAIRS

To collude or not to collude, that is the question

Colin Kaepernick and now Eric Reid might expose more issues in the NFL. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Word hit the NFL Wednesday that former 49ers safety Eric Reid, brother of newly drafted Texans safety Justin Reid, has followed Colin Kaepernick’s lead in filing a grievance against the league alleging collusion to keep him from playing. The doubling of players filing collusion grievances will return to an afterthought again while the offseason rolls on, but I thought I would take a moment and address this and its potential impact on the league, which could go beyond the original intent.

First, Kaepernick is and continues to be a lightning rod in the NFL and its relation to politics and community interaction. When he began his protest, it split the country into groups either for or against him. His original intent was lost in the narrative of divisive political pandering that even the President of the United States Donald Trump used opposition to it as an issue to rally his base.

One such owner who has gotten himself into hot water over this and other issues is Texans owner Bob McNair. His comments in a league meeting about “inmates running the prison” was widely denounced at the time it was leaked, but further quotes from him have showed he is completely against the protest.

It was no surprise then that he was deposed this past March in the Colin Kaepernick case. He was not the only one, as Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has also been under the spotlight. But to many it was easy to look hard at the Texans. Especially in 2017 when starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who plays a similar style as Kaepernick, went down with a season ending injury and it was obvious his replacement wasn’t very good.

But it has been six months since his grievance was filed. More importantly it has been seven weeks since Eric Reid hit free agency and has had only one conversation with an NFL team, the Cincinnati Bengals. During that conversation Reid was asked directly about whether he would continue his protest and when he declined to provide a commitment that he would stop, he was left without an offer.

In their minds, and in the minds of others; both players are being blackballed because of their protest. Both players remain committed to it and both remain unsigned. But the interesting argument against them is simply their perceived lack of talent. And neither player can make a clear case that their play on the field makes them a shoe-in for the 53-man roster of an NFL team.

But in the bigger picture, the Kaepernick case is moving forward and the discovery process will include communications from owners across the league. Reid has hired the same attorney, Mark Geragos, to handle his case and will be privy to the same evidence. What comes out of that may or may not be damning, but it could expose how owners communicate their displeasure with players on any number of issues.

Beyond just collusion against these two players, there may be others who have ruffled a few feathers and have subsequently been withheld from rosters by owner collusion. Evidence may also show how much corporate sponsors play a role in this protest. Papa John’s Pizza has already been exposed in this regard. It’s not a stretch to assume that a lot the league’s dirty laundry may be aired during this process.

At a time when the NFL is facing bad PR from these anthem protests; they are also still dealing with the blowback from domestic violence incidents and the focus on head injuries, as well as other concerns from the public. They can ill afford more secrets being spilled. They also can’t afford to have more players jumping on this grievance claim, which is why they will have to throw everything they have at this to keep it out of the courts.

I can’t say what will happen because I’m sure both Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid will try their best to expose the ugly truth. They may not settle for anything less than an open airing of what has really kept them off an NFL roster.

As a final thought, how will this affect Texans rookie Justin Reid? His brother has just filed a grievance related to the anthem protest. Will he take up the mantle and kneel during the national anthem? Or will Bob McNair put the kibosh on it before he has a chance to start?

 



 

Could next season be the one for Watson? A few have done it before in year four

Watson could join elite company with Super Bowl run in fourth season

Deshaun Watson was magical in the win. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Countdown to "Mahomes Magic" vying for Lombardi's Prize is rapidly approaching. His arrival and amazing ascension to becoming the "face" of the NFL has been meteoric in nature. So the obvious question for us in Houston, is "how" can Deshaun Watson next year land on center stage representing the AFC at next year's Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa? For Deshaun, he'll be entering his fourth NFL season. Have no fear Texans fans, there have been a handful of quarterbacks who have won an NFL Title in their fourth campaigns.

January 12th, 1969 - Joe Namath

​Joe Namath in his 4th season, was an 18 point underdog, led the Jets to one of the games biggest upsets, beating the heavily favored Colts by a score of 16-7. What made this even more remarkable, was that the Colts in the previous round had defeated the Cleveland Browns by a score of 34-0. Namath was not "amazing" that day, completing 17 of 28 passes for a mere 206 yards, but it was "enough" to claim MVP honors at the Miami Orange Bowl. The Jets failed to defend their title the following year, eventually losing to Hank Stram's Cheifs in Super Bowl IV. (The last time Kansas City appeared in a Super Bowl contest)

January 26th, 1986 - Jim McMahon

​Jim McMahon "The Punky QB" aided with Buddy Ryan's famed 46 Defense, and a the league's #1 rushing attack, trounced the New England Patroits in his 4th NFL Season by a score of 46-10. A late hit by Charles Martin during the 86' Regular Season resulted in a separated shoulder, placing Mad Mac on the shelf, and essentially ending the Bears quest for a repeat.

February 3rd, 2008 - Eli Manning

Similar to Namath and the Jets upset in 69', this game is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in NFL History. New England was installed as a -12 point favorite on this day and were chasing perfection, having completed a perfect regular season, and post season. Eli Manning in his fourth year pulled off the miracle, as the Giants were merely a wildcard entry into the playoffs. Prior to this upset, a NFC Wildcard had never captured a Super Bowl Title. Eli threw for 255 yards, and a pair of touchdowns, the most memorable coming in the final moments when David Tyree made the remarkable "helmet catch" in a 17-14 upset victory.

So Houston, fear not !!! A QB can take a franchise to Super Bowl Glory in his 4th season!!!! Or in the case of Patrick Mahomes, possibly as early as a third!

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