Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown reportedly asked safety Eric Reid about his protests during the national anthem in the past and said he planned to ban Bengals players from participating in them in the future during Reid’s free-agent visit with the team, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Brown’s reported comments to Reid certainly lend credence to the theory that players like Kaepernick are being blackballed by the NFL owners for political reasons.
And Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins suspects Reid would already be signed were it not for his protests in the past, per Tim McManus of ESPN.com:
Setting aside personal opinions on whether it’s proper or improper to use the anthem as a mechanism for protest, as a matter of labor and employment law, it’s proper for players to choose to protest during the anthem. Which means that, as a matter of labor and employment law, it’s not proper for the NFL or its teams to hold protesting during the anthem against any player who chooses to protest.
Which also means that there’s no legitimate reason whatsoever for any owner, G.M., or coach to interrogate a potential employee/player on whether he will or won’t kneel. Which means that, if it happens, it’s necessarily illegitimate — no different than asking potential employees about religious beliefs, national origin, and (for female employees, obviously) whether they are or plan to become pregnant.
Again, collusion is just a fancy word for coordination. If the teams have collectively decided, possibly with the league office as the conduit, that players who are most closely identified with kneeling (like Kaepernick and Reid) are bad for business despite the fact that kneeling can’t be prohibited, that’s a problem.