The debate isn’t over, but the legal case is. The NFL settled a collusion complaint Friday with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, CNBC reports. The complaint said the players were blackballed, which violated the league’s collective bargaining agreement, for kneeling when the national anthem was played before games in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. When he began the protest, Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He became a free agent after the 2016 season and hasn’t found a job since. Reid was a safety for the same team who filed a grievance of his own after he, too, became a free agent and went unsigned for months. He landed with the Carolina Panthers last fall, and he continued the protest this past season. Terms of the settlement, which heads off a hearing scheduled for later this month, were not announced.
Kaepernick first sat during the national anthem before a preseason game in August 2016, per Sports Illustrated. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media after that game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” The next month, Kaepernick talked to an Army veteran and decided to kneel instead of sit. Reid joined the protest, and other NFL players began kneeling or raising their fists. Athletes in other sports did, too: The entire Indiana Fever team took a knee before the first game of the WNBA playoffs. President Trump stoked the flames by saying that NFL teams should fire players for kneeling, and some owners responded by instead kneeling or standing with them during the anthem as the 2017 season began. (Read more Colin Kaepernick stories.)