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How Eric Reid’s case is colluding against common sense

How Eric Reid's case is colluding against common sense
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL over his employment status, a strange strategy unless you understand the goals of those involved.

For Mark Geragos, the high-profile, Los Angeles-based attorney representing both Reid and his former teammate Colin Kaepernick in a separate even more explosive collusion charge, the goal is publicity. For Reid it’s about furthering a cause he’s passionate about, in this case the LSU product’s social activism in regard to the alleged systemic mistreatment of the African-American community by the police.

How Eric Reid's case is colluding against common sense

What it most certainly isn’t about is employment and that thesis is rubber stamped by the fact Reid actually turned down a one-year offer believed to be for $550,000 from the Niners, something confirmed by an NFL source to

By definition the original contract offer by San Francisco is no smoking gun in favor of the league, however, because the legal definition of collusion requires just two entities to be in concert so if say Roger Goodell instructed Mike Brown in Cincinnati to steer clear of Reid, that’s collusion even with the documented offer by the Niners.

Brown, of course, reportedly asked Reid if he planned to continue kneeling during the anthem even though Reid had already publicly stated that he would stop protesting. When no contract offer came from the Bengals, those who don’t understand what collusion is starting throwing around the “C” word nonetheless.

That kind of accusation isn’t the plan for Reid’s camp for a couple of reasons: first and foremost being it’s a silly charge without merit but more so, there are bigger fish to fry.

The objective here is to inject the President of the United States himself into the mix and hope our toxic, polarized political environment can nudge an arbiter to turn into a pretzel with the tangential thought that a very rich owner who may be receptive to Trump’s political agenda might have taken the loud-mouthed POTUS’ advice to “fire” all the players protesting social injustices during the national anthem.

It’s a murky path when considering typical collusion cases in market competition which essentially boil down to rivals cooperating for mutual benefit. Here, the argument is that the bully pulpit of the POTUS has some kind of real objective power over an owner or owners in the NFL.

It’s not simply Trump communicating with Jerry Jones for instance and offering an opinion against hiring Kaepernick or Reid. If Trump was another owner, however, it would be collusion.

Logically Reid’s case is a loser of an argument but emotionally, well it’s already winning in the court of public opinion.

The problem remains the end game and what exactly it is from Reid’s standpoint. If it’s about inflating the market for a better contract, attacking potential employers isn’t sound advice but if it’s about trying to advance the cause he’s passionate about, it might be disingenuous but it will be effective.

It’s very easy to paint all NFL owners as a monolith, the rich and privileged who only think a certain way but it’s also simply not true.

Pick your label and branding. Owners like Jeffrey Lurie, Paul Allen, and Jed York are all extremely “liberal” or “progressive” in their political views, an inconvenient truth for those pushing a narrative to the least common denominator.

Lurie seemed hurt when asked about the accusations that Kaepernick has been blackballed by last year.

“I think the definition of blacklist is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that. I’ve never had a discussion [about that] with anybody,” Lurie explained. “It doesn’t work that way. There’s no communication. We’re very competitive against each other, the 32 owners. I don’t reveal anything. They don’t reveal anything. There’s no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I’ve never heard any discussion of a player like that.

“You keep it to yourself. You have your own strategy. I think that’s the way it works.”

Obviously, Reid and Kaepernick are both well aware of York and how unfair it is to paint him with the same broad brush as everyone else, something their former teammate Torrey Smith, now with Carolina, when he spoke to last season.

“I’ll tell you this, Jed York was probably the best owner to handle what went on [with Colin Kaepernick],” Smith admitted. “I don’t know if any other team could have handled it the way Jed did and the 49ers. They literally have a guy there who helps with race relations (Dr. Harry Edwards). It’s different (there). … He’s a different kind of owner, so I don’t think it’s fair to put everyone together.”

It’s not fair but it is easy.

When this is all said and done, the only winners in the Reid and Kaepernick collusion cases are going to be divisiveness, along with the lawyers who get to pad their billable hours.

Written by John McMullen

-John McMullen is a national NFL columnist for and the NFL Insider for ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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