An anonymous NFL source told ESPN on Friday (November 3) that the team owners for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots will be deposed and required to turn over email and cell phone records related to the case. Kaepernick’s grievance, which he filed last month, accuses all 32 NFL team owners and other central office executives of punishing him for his kneeling protests against racist policing by conspiring to keep him out of a job. The complaint says the alleged collusion violates the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, which prohibits executives from placing restrictions on a team’s ability to work with any individual player.
ESPN notes that each of the deposed team owners—all of whom are White—either commented on the protests or have some connection to Kaepernick. Jerry Jones of the Cowboys previously promised to bench any player who kneeled during the anthem. Texans players recently kneeled after team owner Robert McNair likened protesting players to “inmates running the prison.” Robert Kraft told Patriots players under his employment last month that he believes players, regardless of their protest method, must “respect our flag and our anthem.” 49ers CEO Jed York denies the former quarterback’s collusion accusations. Paul Allen has not publicly commented on Kaepernick, but the Seahawks brought him in for practice before coach Pete Carroll rejected him as overqualified for a backup position.
ESPN added yesterday (November 5) that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and senior vice presidents Troy Vincent and Arthur McAfee will also be deposed. Goodell encountered criticism for a letter he issed saying that the league wants players to “move past [the anthem] controversy” by standing.
CBS Sports reports, without naming team owners, that the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans will also be deposed. The Ravens publicly considered a tryout for Kaepernick, but never extended an invitation. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said that he didn’t meet with Kaepernick because of his alleged unfamiliary with their offensive tactics.
Neither the NFL, the named team owners nor Kaepernick commented on the reports as of press time. Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos declined to confirm or deny the reports to The Washington Post, but did say that “every day that goes by and he doesn’t get signed is another nail in the NFL’s defense.”