After being unable to get a job with any team in the NFL this season, Colin Kaepernick has filed a formal grievance against the NFL, each of the 32 team owners, and President Donald Trump—who supposedly “influenced” league management and team owners into not hiring him—alleging that they colluded to not sign him at quarterback, or end-of-bench monitor, this season.
Coincidentally, his filing comes after a year in which he routinely attacked our flag and national anthem and insulted our veterans by taking a knee during the pre-game playing of our national anthem. Also coincidentally, his filing comes after a year in which he led his last employer, the San Francisco 49ers, to a 1-10 record before the team tired of losing and benched him.
Let’s set aside Kaepernick’s beef against Trump. Aside from being utterly laughable, it casually insults the team owners as being cowards unable to run their businesses in the face of a Presidential tweet parade. That’s a minor point.
What illustrates the risible nature of Kaepernick’s grievance is its centering on his free speech rights and his claim that he’s been blackballed as a result of his so-called protests.
Carefully elided is everyone else’s free speech right to object to his behavior, just as vociferously, including with ticket dollars and TV viewing. This particularly includes team owners, who don’t give up their free speech rights to respond in the same forum to Kaepernick’s, et al., free speech “protests.”
Also: a private company employee’s free speech rights, within very broad limits, are matters of employment contract parameters. The 1st Amendment limits Government, not private entities.
Beyond all of that, neither a broad functional consensus—paralleling the fans’ broad consensus—of owners disliking this particular misbehavior, nor a separate broad functional consensus that employees publicly disparaging our national symbols and insulting those who fought to defend them is bad for business, even remotely approach collusion.
There is no case in this lawfare assault.