Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has claimed that NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league because of his social justice protests during the national anthem.
A new report from Yahoo Sports that the league polled fans about whether they thought he should be on a team could be used to bolster that claim.
What's the story?
In 2017, several months into Kaepernick's free agency, the NFL hired The Glover Park Group, a Washington consulting firm, to conduct a poll of fan attitudes about some hot-button issues, including Kaepernick. From Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson:
The data sought by the NFL included fan attitudes about a few high-profile league concerns, including domestic violence, gambling, player protests and player safety. Sources noted that Kaepernick was the only player singled out in the research for specific opinions, which were then compiled and sent to various league officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell and several other high-ranking executives.
The portion of the survey that addressed Kaepernick asked fans whether they believed Kaepernick should be signed, and whether they believed he was unsigned due to his protests, on-field performance, or other reasons.
What did the poll find?
Yahoo Sports' sources did not divulge the specific data from the poll, but did reveal that there were clear dividing lines separating demographics.
Specifically, divisions in which a majority of white NFL fans supported disciplining players for not standing for the anthem versus a majority of the NFL’s African-American and Latino fans who didn’t. The sources also said a majority of Republican NFL fans supported the disciplining of players versus a majority of Democrats who didn’t, and a majority of Baby Boomer NFL fans significantly supported discipline more than both Generation Xers and Millennials.
Why does this matter?
The NFL is in the midst of dealing with a collusion grievance filed by Kaepernick against the NFL owners. Kaepernick believes owners conspired to keep him out of the league for political reasons.
That grievance has included depositions of owners, forcing them to turn over phone and email records related to Kaepernick.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported earlier this week that documents from the depositions reveal that teams viewed Kaepernick as not just good enough to be on a team, but to be a starting quarterback.