Members of the NFL office, 11 team owners, and 13 players met in New York on Tuesday to discuss national anthem protests.
The league has already said it would like to move past protesting during the anthem and find a way to promote players’ work in their respective communities.
As the meeting concluded, the NFL said it was a “productive” session and both sides will continue to work together to find a way forward. It did not sound like any formal decisions had been made over protests.
But perhaps the most interesting take-away in the aftermath of the meeting was the potential inclusion going forward of the man who started the controversy: Colin Kaepernick.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins told reporters after the meeting that Kaepernick was invited to the meeting but didn’t join.
Afterward, Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, released a statement saying Kaepernick was not officially invited by the NFL but would consider joining in the future:
CBS’s Jason La Canfora followed up with a report that some players felt Kaepernick should have been involved in the conversation all along.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s who still kneels during the anthem, told USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes that many of the ideas that players presented in the meaning stemmed from Kaepernick:
“Colin has had influence on most of the players. Some ideas that were brought up in the meeting … a lot of them were his ideas. Ideas that he has had through discussions with us. We just brought them to the table with the owners.
“Even though he wasn’t in the room, his influence was definitely present.”
If the meetings between owners and players continue, it could set up a scenario where Kaepernick, in the midst of a grievance that NFL owners colluded not to sign him, finds himself at the league office discussing the protest that he alleges led to this collusion.
It’s unclear what would coerce Kaepernick to the meeting. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported Kaepernick chose not to attend so as not to be a distraction. Perhaps an official invite from the NFL would get Kaepernick to attend.
Reid added to USA Today: “I think it is important that he gets an invitation. That decision will be up to him and what he thinks is best for him, but if he’s not there, I know his influence will still be there.”
If Kaepernick does end up at a meeting, it could change the entire narrative around the protests, the league’s solutions going forward, and perhaps even his own collusion grievance.