Players Say Colin Kaepernick’s Voice Needs to Be Heard in NFL Meetings

Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins, 49ers' Eric Reid try to clarify former quarterback's role in protest talks.

A new twist in the ongoing Colin Kaepernick saga bubbled up to the surface on Sunday, when Slate published a report saying that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback had not, in fact, been invited to meet with National Football League owners and the players representing a coalition of protestors. The meeting was supposed to take place today. Slate‘s report directly contradicted one last week from ESPN saying the exact opposite.

Now, to complicate matters further, the two players at the center of the coalition—the Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid—are telling Sports Illustrated‘s MMQB something altogether different. When asked by S.I.‘s Conor Orr whether the idea was to get Kaepernick involved in discussions with the league and NFL owners, Jenkins said “Yeah, I mean, that’s never been off the agenda.” While Reid, on the other hand, said: “I think there’s some frustration on Colin’s end because he wasn’t invited to the meeting. I think it’s just a lack of communication, and I think that there’s people in the NFL who don’t want him there. I don’t think there are any players who don’t want him there—I think it’s just the NFL that doesn’t want him there.”

Interestingly, Jenkins has been made the unofficial mediator between the owners, the league, and the coalition, per Reid. “I don’t know how that came to be, but that’s what it is so far. I’ve been trying to get in touch with people from the NFL, can’t do it. Colin’s been trying to get in touch with people from the NFL, can’t do it. For some reason, they only want to talk to Malcolm. That’s not a problem, but Colin and I started this protest, and we feel we should be the point or, if not, more heavily involved in the communication.”

What may be causing the issue surrounding whether to invite Kaepernick to a meeting or not could be his pending grievance with the league. After all, he’s basically accusing NFL team owners of colluding to keep him off of a roster this season. And that could make for a particularly awkward exchange about the issue of protesting, which is not unrelated but could easily work against the coalition of players currently engaging in it.

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