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    02.17.19 In The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Law360, Professor Jodi Balsam Weighs in on Kaepernick-NFL Settlement
    Jodi Balsam

    Professor Jodi Balsam, a sports law expert and former in-house counsel at the National Football League, spoke with multiple media outlets about the settlement between Colin Kaepernick and the NFL. Kaepernick and his former 49ers teammate Eric Reid claimed that teams around the league colluded to penalize them for leading national-anthem protests. The resulting controversy made Kaepernick the face of a broader social justice movement.

    In The New York Times story alleging NFL owners opted to settle rather than remain in a protracted legal battle, Balsam said “The NFL has so many other issues around player health and well-being, they need to remove all the other static.”

    The settlement is widely seen as a victory for Kaepernick, as Balsam told The Wall Street Journal it is “unusual and unexpected” for the NFL to settle such high-profile cases. The settlement is subject to a confidentiality agreement, mainly, she believes, due to the likelihood of a financial payment and the league wanting to avoid creating “a ‘dangerous precedent’ for similar collusion cases or other notable grievances.”

    “They don’t want to be seen as an easy target for these sorts of claims,” Balsam said. “I find it very curious. It’s fairly unique in the way the NFL has dealt with collusion claims. They’ve fought them pretty tooth and nail in the past.”

    Elaborating on the typical hard-nosed approach the NFL has taken in the past, Balsam told Law360 that the league’s position, at least publicly, has always been that it is more than about the money. “From the NFL’s perspective, frankly, it is surprising that they didn’t fight the collusion claim tooth and nail to a decision on the merits, because they never want to message to their players that they are a soft touch on these sorts of claims,” she said. 

    Balsam worked for the NFL for 12 years as Counsel for Operations and Litigation prior to teaching. At the Law School, her courses focus on Professional Skills and Sports Law. She is regularly quoted in the media on a broad range of issues such as concussion lawsuitswearable technologylegalized sports gamblinglabor-management relations, and sports related controversies. Balsam recently was named to the editorial board of LawInSport, an educational platform and global community focused on sport and the law, and she co-authored the 6th Edition of Sports and the Law: Text, Cases, and Problems (West Academic, 2019), which explores legal issues in professional and amateur sports.

    Read more:           

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Resolve Collusion Grievances With NFL

    In Colin Kaepernick Case, N.F.L. Makes a Familiar, Safe Call

    Kaepernick, Reid Settle NFL Collusion Grievances