On Friday, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was added to the growing list of NFL owners, coaches, and executives who have been deposed in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL. Like everyone else, Kraft had to answer questions about communications between his and other team owners regarding Kaepernick’s employment in the league.
TMZ reported that Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was questioned at the team headquarters early last week. Kaepernick, like at every other deposition, was said to be present when his legal team took Elway’s statements. It has not been confirmed that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was present at Kraft’s sit-down.
So far, Kaepernick has personally attended the depositions for Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, plus Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
But Kraft’s long-standing friendship with Donald J. Trump gave this particular deposition greater importance. The relationship has raised questions about whether or not the president’s public statements criticizing Kaepernick and other protesters influenced his hiring decisions. Kraft’s comments during a recent owners meeting were leaked and have made him a target of Kaepernick’s team.
At a political rally, Trump called the veteran quarterback a “son of a b*tch” who should be fired for taking a knee during the national anthem. Kraft deemed Trump’s rhetoric “divisive” and “horrible” while other team owners expressed fears of being blasted on Twitter if they allowed the protests to continue.
Kaepernick’s legal team is gathering information to prove that the owners worked together to stop Trump’s criticism, restore game attendance, and satisfy sponsors. Their solution was to make an example of Kaepernick by not hiring him in an effort to stop other players from continuing to take a knee.
Coincidentally, former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, who was the first man to take a knee alongside Colin Kaepernick, appears to be suffering a similar fate. Reid declared his free agency at the end of the 2017 season and is still unsigned.
According to ESPN, the strong safety is also suing the NFL. Reid’s action may give some weight to Kaepernick’s case because talks with the Cincinnati Bengals ended abruptly after owner Mike Brown asked him to guarantee that he would not protest next season. Reid could not make that promise.