NFL reportedly pressuring team to sign Colin Kaepernick
The NFL is scrambling to have fans talk about anything other than referee favoritism toward the New England Patriots heading into Super Bowl LII, and this may have done the trick.
Perhaps a little too well.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported on Twitter that he has heard some “believable” rumors that the NFL is twisting the arm of the Oakland Raiders to sign free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
This stems from the controversy surrounding the Raiders’ hiring of Jon Gruden as head coach.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance and others accused the team of violating the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which stipulates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate before making a hiring decision.
The Raiders said they had interviewed their tight end coach, Bobby Johnson, along with USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin.
An NFL investigation corroborated the claims and found the Raiders innocent of any wrongdoing.
Many pundits still cried foul.
While the Raiders may have technically interviewed Johnson and Martin, some felt that the team violated the spirit of the Rooney Rule by all but guaranteeing the job to Gruden weeks before then-coach Jack Del Rio was let go.
Now Freeman is reporting that the reason the Raiders weren’t assessed any punishment is a quid pro quo agreement: In exchange for not being punished, the Raiders are being urged by the NFL to sign Kaepernick.
“[W]e looked out for you on the Rooney rule, now help us by signing Kaepernick, and helping to end the collusion [grievance that he filed against the league],” Freeman wrote, claiming to paraphrase what he heard from his league sources.
“Lots of you scratch my back… I’ll scratch yours,” Freeman added on Twitter.
Freeman said this is how the league operates now, as a political machine.
It would be damning for the NFL if this were true.
Not only would the anti-Kaepernick crowd decry the alleged mandate, but the pro-Kaepernick people would call this nothing but an empty and meaningless gesture to get rid of the collusion grievance Kaepernick lobbed against the NFL and its team owners.
Freeman isn’t the only one linking the Raiders to the divisive Kaepernick.
The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Scott Ostler also outlined why the Raiders are rapidly shaping up as Kaepernick’s likeliest destination.
Per Ostler, one of the biggest impediments to the team previously trying to sign Kaepernick was that Del Rio is vehemently against national anthem protests.
Del Rio is no longer there.
A more substantive reason that Ostler provides is that many of the people helping fund the Raiders’ new stadium in Las Vegas were apprehensive of being associated with Kaepernick.
At this point, it’s too late to stop construction of the stadium. It’s happening with or without Kaepernick, per Ostler. That effectively eliminates any concerns over the potential throttling of funding for the Las Vegas stadium.
Gruden has already established that Derek Carr is the starting franchise quarterback for the Raiders.
Kaepernick would presumably be brought in as a backup quarterback, a role that he has not publicly acknowledged as one he’d be willing to accept.
Freeman said he doesn’t think the team will succumb to pressure from the league to sign Kaepernick.
“The Raiders likely won’t give in to the league because they have expensive suites and seats to fill in Vegas,” he tweeted. “They may see Kaepernick as hindering that.”
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