In news that might have repercussions for Colin Kaepernick’s collusion claims against the NFL, it has come to light that the league hired a public opinion firm to poll fans as to whether they felt the quarterback should be punished for his anthem protests.
The National Football League apparently polled fans in 2017 on their feelings about Kaepernick and found that fans were split down racial and ideological lines, Yahoo Sports reported.
The NFL was interested in learning what fans thought on a variety of issues including domestic violence, sports gambling, player safety, and protests. But the league also included a question specifically about Kaepernick making him the only player mentioned by name in the polling.
Per Yahoo Sports:
According to sources, the NFL approved research that sought two pieces of information: Whether Americans believed Kaepernick should have been signed by an NFL team; and given that Kaepernick remained a free agent, whether fans believed that was because he refused to stand for the national anthem or due to his on-field performance or other reasons.
The sources said the poll also explored overall attitudes toward the potential disciplining of players who refused to stand for the anthem in protest over racial and social inequalities. That data was then divided into multiple demographics, sources said, including whites, African-Americans and Latinos, Democrats, Republicans and independents, and Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.
According to the source, the divisions in the results were, perhaps, predictable:
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.
The results could be used by Kaepernick’s attorneys to prove that the league specifically worked against him. If the league shared the polling data with all 32 teams, that could be used as evidence of collusion
Kaepernick is infamous for being the player who in 2016 invented the anti-American protest during the playing of the national anthem. But after the 2016 season, Kaepernick turned free agent and subsequently found that no team was interested in signing him.
He since filed a grievance case with the National Football League Players Association alleging that the league’s owners “colluded” to keep him from pursuing his football career.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.