Kaepernick v the NFL: How we got here
After nearly a year and a half of legal manoeuvering, the NFL and former San Francisco 49ers team-mates Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid announced on Friday that they have reached a settlement that resolves the pair's grievance with the league.
No details were announced and the settlement terms prevent the parties from commenting, but the end of legal proceedings in the case indicates the players got what they believed to be fair compensation from the league they accused of colluding against them.
While Reid has remained employed during the process, landing a deal with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 and signing a new three-year contract earlier this week, Kaepernick has yet to find an NFL landing spot since opting out of his 49ers contract in March 2017.
Here is a recap of how the parties got to this point:
August 26, 2016 — Kaepernick sits during the national anthem before the 49ers' pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. Asked about it after the match, the quarterback says he did so to protest police against brutality and the oppression of people of colour in the United States.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
September 1, 2016 — Kaepernick and Reid take a knee during the anthem before a 49ers-Los Angeles Chargers pre-season game, a practice that would continue into the regular season.
September 5, 2016 — Then-President Barack Obama weighs in on what was a full-blown national controversy, supporting Kaepernick's right to protest: "He's exercising his constitutional right to make a statement," Obama said at a news conference during the G20 summit in China. "I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways you can do it when it comes to the flag and national anthem."
September 7, 2016 — Two days later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes his first public comments on the matter: "I don't necessarily agree with what he is doing," Goodell said, adding, "I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don't live in a perfect society. On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that."
October 11, 2016 — After the 49ers get off to a 1-4 start with Blaine Gabbert playing quarterback, coach Chip Kelly announces Kaepernick will make his season debut in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. He completes only 13 of 29 passes in a 45-16 loss but remains San Francisco's starter the rest of the season.
January 1, 2017 — Kaepernick completes a nine-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Celek on San Francisco's final offensive play of a 25-23 season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the last NFL pass he has thrown to date. San Francisco finishes 2-14.
February 28, 2017 — Kaepernick's agents inform all NFL teams that the QB will opt out of the rest of his contract. Previous reports had indicated the 49ers planned to release him if he had not opted out.
April 26, 2017 — Reid tells reporters he plans to stand during the anthem in 2017: “Our goal was (to) open the floor to conversation. I believe we achieved that goal. So now we just want to move forward and partner with people that are trying to make a change. … I think we raised a lot of awareness about issues in this country and now it’s time to move on to just affecting change and not doing the gesture during the anthem.”
August 28, 2017 — After standing during the anthem at the 49ers' first two pre-season games, Reid reverts to kneeling following a conversation with Kaepernick.
September 24, 2017 — Two days after President Donald Trump says players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, players from numerous teams protest en masse, with members of several teams remaining in the locker room while the anthem is played.
October 15, 2017 — After remaining unsigned through the opening weeks of the 2017 season, Kaepernick files a formal grievance accusing NFL owners of colluding to keep him out of the game.
April 18, 2018 — Kaepernick is present as his attorneys depose Goodell at the NFL's New York headquarters in connection with the grievance. Numerous other high-profile NFL figures also sit for depositions at various points in the process, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
May 2, 2018 — The NFL Players Association says it has filed a grievance on Reid's behalf after the veteran safety goes unsigned through the opening weeks of free agency.
May 23, 2018 — The NFL announces a new policy that includes fines for personnel who "do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem," while giving players the option of remaining in the locker room during pre-game ceremonies.
August 28, 2018 — Independent arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejects the NFL's request for a summary judgment dismissing Kaepernick's grievance, allowing the case to move forward.
September 3, 2018 — Days before the start of the NFL season, Nike unveils a new 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign centering on Kaepernick.
Sept. 27, 2018 — The Panthers sign Reid to a contract covering the rest of the season. Kaepernick tweets his congratulations: "He was the 1ST person 2 kneel alongside me. Eric is a social justice warrior, continues to support his family. and communities in need."
Oct. 7, 2018 — Reid kneels during the anthem before his first game with the Panthers.
Jan. 9, 2019 — The NFL and NFLPA release a joint statement denying any impropriety after Reid complained multiple times during the 2018 season that he felt he had been singled out for excessive random drug testing by league officials.
Feb. 11, 2019 — The Panthers sign Reid to a new three-year deal worth just more than $22 million.
Feb. 15, 2019 — The NFL and Kaepernick and Reid's attorneys make a joint announcement that the players' grievances against the league have been settled.