There was little sign that the Chargers would bring tight end Antonio Gates back for the 2018 season and the team made their plans to move on without him official on Monday with statements thanking the veteran for his years with the team.
Rivers called it “a unique opportunity” to share so much of his career with Gates and both the NFL and Chargers record books attest to how unusual it is for two players to find so much sustained success together.
Said the NFL Players Association in announcing the grievance: “Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”
The development isn’t a surprise. And Reid’s argument will be similar if not identical to the argument previously made by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Put simply, they’ll both contend that the NFL’s teams adopted a coordinated approach to the shunning of players who were deemed to be “bad for business” because of their role in the anthem protests.
Some believe it’s perfectly legitimate to reject players who have protested in the past or who may protest in the future. This overlooks the reality that the NFL has given players the right to protest, that the NFL confirmed the existence of the right to protest after the phenomenon emerged in 2016, and that the NFL reiterated the existence of the right after President Trump’s comments made the issue a major national subject of debate in 2017.
But even if it’s permissible to shun players for exercising rights given to them by the NFL, it’s not permissible for teams to coordinate when it comes to deciding whether to hire or not hire players. It’s not permissible for teams to coordinate as to any employment issue.