A proposed meeting Monday between the NFL and a group of players, meant to address issues underlying the ongoing protests during the national anthem, was canceled, but both sides are saying they want to “continue the dialogue.” Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick would simply like to be included in that dialogue.
Lawyers for Kaepernick said that he has not been included in correspondence between the league, a group called the Players Coalition and the NFL players’ union. That’s despite a statement Saturday from the Coalition stating that the former 49ers quarterback was invited to the Monday meeting, along with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Texans owner Bob McNair, whose “inmates running the prison” remark angered his and other players.
“We didn’t even know there was a meeting,” a lawyer for Kaepernick told SB Nation on Sunday. “The press release was the first time we heard of any invite.”
McNair made his “inmates” comment at a meeting earlier this month to which Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, a Coalition member, said Kaepernick had been invited. That also was news to Kapernick attorney Mark Geragos, who told Slate, “We specifically reached out to the [NFL Players Association] and to the Players Coalition, and we were verbatim told that Colin had no role.”
The NFL also had helped create an impression that Kaepernick was being offered chances to join the dialogue. “We look forward to him joining the conversation,” league spokesman Joe Lockhart said last week.
A story published Sunday by Slate showed an email from the Players Association’s general counsel, Tom DePaso, telling a lawyer for Kaepernick that it was the union’s “understanding” that Jenkins has “remained in contact” with Kaepernick. Another email, from that lawyer to Jenkins, said to the safety, “Once again, it appears that false information is being communicated to the media that Mr. Kaepernick has been invited [to a meeting between players and the NFL], which once again he has not.”
The Associated Press reported Sunday that Jenkins “declined to address” the Slate article. He did say that “league didn’t accept our invitation” to the meeting, adding that the NFL pointed to scheduling and logistical issues.
“At this point, the ball is in their court,” Jenkins said. “We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing. Guys are working around the league.”
“Nothing is set, but the league is eager to continue the dialogue with the players,” an NFL spokesman told the AP. “We would welcome Colin at a meeting, but it’s the players who are extending the invitations.”
In the email to Jenkins, Kaepernick’s lawyer wrote, “It remains inconceivable that actual progress can or will be made at these player meetings if discussions regarding certain ideas and platforms which Mr. Kaepernick has led and created are discussed and negotiated without Mr. Kaepernick being present.” He added that the free agent quarterback “is open to participating in, and discussing the ideas he has led, at the next meeting in a meaningful way.”
49ers safety Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s who joined in his protests last season and has continued them this year, told ESPN, “I know Colin has been fighting to get in the room to speak with the corporate people from the NFL, and thus far he hasn’t been able to. We’re just going to keep working on getting him in the room.
“He told me that he was explicitly told that he had no place being there [in the last meeting].”
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