The NFL reportedly used a consulting firm to poll if Colin Kaepernick, who has remained a free agent since taking a knee during the National Anthem, should have been hired by a team.
The poll was conducted by The Glover Park Group, four months into the quarterback’s free agency that began in March of 2017, and as the president tweeted his criticisms of the players’ protests, according to source who spoke to Yahoo Sports.
Kaepernick filed a collusion case against NFL owners in October alleging a concerted effort was made to keep him out of football.
He became the face of the movement during his time with the San Francisco 49ers, since he began the players protests of taking a knee during the National Anthem in response to the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.
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The controversial protests exploded across the NFL two years ago after then-San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (center) refused to stand to protest inequality and police brutality. He has remained a free agent since leaving the 49ers in 2017
Kaepernick sued the NFL claiming they colluded against him to keep him out of the league. A new report says the NFL hired a polling firm to get public opinion on if he should be hired by a team four months into becoming a free agent
Any such polling by the NFL could help his case against the league, especially if the data from the poll went beyond high ranking executives to individual team personnel who could have potentially signed him.
Kaepernick’s former teammate Eric Reid, a safety with the 49ers and unrestricted free agent, also filed a collusion suit against the NFL earlier this month.
Reid, who joined Kaepernick in kneeling to bring attention to social injustice, visited only one team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and was asked if he would continue to kneel during the anthem by team ownership.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that the league will be fining teams for any personnel who fail to stand for the national anthem. However, players will be allowed to stay in the locker rooms
Kaepernick had a visit scheduled with the Seattle Seahawks, the only team to host him in 2017, but it was postponed because management wanted greater clarity on the player’s intentions during pregame activities.
It is unclear how the apparent polling went in regards to Kaepernick, but the NFL has changed its rules for protesting players in response to his movement.
In a win for the president, who has repeatedly rebuked the protests, calling them a disrespect to the country and flag, the NFL announced it would be imposing fines for kneeling players.
The NFL announced on Wednesday it was implementing a rule that players can remain in the locker room during the Star-Spangled Banner in lieu of kneeling and that players can be fined if they kneel on the field in protest.
‘A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,’ the NFL said in a statement.
The statement added that the league’s commissioner ‘will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.’
President Donald Trump backed an NFL rule change Wednesday that bans kneeling during the national anthem and hits violators with fines
Trump, throughout the 2017 football season, quipped about players who kneel during his rallies, in interviews and over Twitter.
On Thursday, during a pre-taped interview that aired on Fox News, the president said the NFL’s rule still didn’t go far enough.
‘I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms,’ he told Fox & Friends. ‘You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.’
Meanwhile the National Football League Players Association released a statement that they were not consulted by the NFL regarding the new policy.
‘The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ”policy,” NFLPA said in a statement.
‘NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League,’ NFLPA’s statement continued.
The union said they will be reviewing the new rule and will challenge any part of it that ‘is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.’
Individual teams have had varied reactions to the NFL’s policy.
The CEO of the 49ers, Jed York who declined to participate in a Wednesday vote on the NFL’s rule, said the team will no longer serve concessions during the anthem.
‘I don’t think we should profit during the national anthem,’ York explained, according to ABC7 San Francisco.
National Football League Players Association Statement
The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’ NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.
The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.
Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.
‘If we’re going to ask people to be respectful, I think that’s something we should do to be successful.’
‘We want to make sure we have an all-encompassing sort of solution to how we look at this and not point the finger at one group or another,’ he added.
While York would not say whether or not he is in favor of the rule, he explained that he wanted to ‘make sure we’re working with our players toward progress.’
‘I think there are a lot of reasons, and I’m not going to get into all of them,’ York said when asked why he didn’t vote on the rule that the NFL said was approved unanimously.
‘But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything we’re doing is to promote progress. And I think we’ve done a good piece of that so far.’
The New York Jets took a different approach to how hey will handle the rule, with CEO Christopher Johnson telling Newsday that while none of the players took a knee during last season, he or the organization will pay their fines if they choose to do so.
Johnson added, ‘I do not like imposing any club-specific rules.’
‘If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest.’
‘There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear,’ Johnson added.
While NFL games remain one of the most watched programs on television, ratings took a hardy dip during the 2017 regular season amidst the controversial protests.
Johnson told reporters in March that he didn’t feel a change in protocol was necessary.
‘I know there’s some discussion of keeping players off the field until after the anthem. I think that’s a particularly bad idea. I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.’