Bryant McKinnie: collusion happens in the NFL, and the Vikings did it to me

Bryant McKinnie is tall.

Bryant McKinnie is tall. Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

The Colin Kaepernick saga is doing strange things to America.

For example: You see the name "Bryant McKinnie" together with the acronym "TMZ," and you might think: "Wait, was there a sequel to the 'Sexboat' scandal? Sexboat 2: Return of the Double-Sided Dildo? How will we purify ourselves in the now-fouled waters of Lake Minnetonka?"

Another example: You hear "rookie holdout," and some will picture an entitled young athlete who's suddenly decided he's worth more than the millions he's being offered.

And yet, here we are. As of a few days ago, Bryant McKinnie is sounding like something approaching a labor and civil rights activist, and TMZ's breaking news that doesn't involve a hot body on a beach or a cold one in a hotel room.

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are former teammates on the San Francsisco 49ers. Both are gifted, and still in prime playing years for their positions (Kaepernick, a quarterback, is 30; strong safety Reid is just 26) and yet neither has interest from NFL teams. They think it's because they kneeled during the National Anthem, to protest police brutality and racism in America. 

Kaepernick, the public face of that protest movement, went unsigned all of last season. Reid, a starter in each of his five seasons in San Francisco, became a free agent in March, and says he's not getting interest from NFL teams because of his participation in the anthem protests.

Both Kaepernick and Reid have filed grievances against the NFL, alleging collusion among teams to keep them unsigned. Both player grievances have reportedly included mention of President Donald Trump, who is believed to have had private conversations with NFL owners about protesting players.

Publicly, meanwhile, Trump did this:

Against this backdrop, enter Bryant McKinnie, the TMZ guys, and their Facetime accounts. In an interview that posted over the weekend, McKinnie said: 

"Y'all probably don't know this. I had a collusion case against the NFL my rookie year. That's why I was holding out. I definitely believe in collusion." 

McKinnie was drafted as the seventh overall pick in 2002, and sat out more than three months of the season while his agents (plural) worked out a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnie's holdout ended with his signing to a five year, $13.5 million contract; he also agreed to drop a grievance case alleging collusion between the Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

As McKinnie explains, the Dallas Cowboys that year drafted Roy Williams at No. 8, and quickly signed him to a contract that some thought was too lucrative. McKinnie wanted to get paid better than the guy one spot behind him; the No. 6 pick, Ryan Sims, drafted by the Chiefs, wanted to get paid better than McKinnie.

As McKinnie recalls it, the Vikings and Chiefs scrimmaged each other that summer. That gave them the "opportunity for the two teams to talk to each other," while neither Sims nor McKinnie was present for training camp. "That's where the collusion initally began," McKinnie says, adding: "I'm well aware of collusion, I've been aware of it my whole career. And I know it happens. Nobody's going to admit it. But, why did you get my deal done all of a sudden, and then you want to tell me, in order to get this deal done, you have to drop the case?"

Suddenly sounding like a pundit, McKinnie says if Kaepernick has enough evidence in his own collusion accusation, he could see the case being "settled out of court, or some type of arrangement for him."

The Vikings did not respond to City Pages' requests for comment.