Quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL on Sunday, alleging that he remains unsigned as a result of collusion by owners following his protests during the national anthem.
The 29-year-old, who has been unemployed since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March, hired high-profile attorney Mark Geragos to represent him. Geragos released a statement through Twitter on Sunday night.
The grievance claims the league’s owners “colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice.”
Geragos said in his statement that the grievance was filed “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”
It may be difficult to prove collusion based on the current collective bargaining agreement. The lack of a contract alone is not enough proof to satisfy an allegation of collusion. Geragos and Kaepernick will have to provide evidence that teams entered into an agreement to bar him from the league.
Kaepernick’s supporters believe he’s being punished for protesting police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem last season. This movement has spread throughout the NFL this season, drawing sharp criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Last week, CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora said that Kaepernick would be willing to go anywhere to work out for a team and wanted to be judged solely on his football ability.
Wants fair treatment
Geragos echoed those sentiments.
“Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”
Kaepernick’s agent had reportedly reached out to all 32 teams to note his availability.
San Francisco safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, has been kneeling during the anthem before games, including Sunday’s 26-24 loss at the Washington Redskins.
“I’ll have to follow up with him,” Reid said after the game. “It sure does seem like he’s being blackballed. I think all the stats prove that he’s an NFL-worthy quarterback. So that’s his choice and I support his decision. We’ll just have to see what comes of it.”
The NFL players’ union said it would support the grievance, which was filed through the arbitration system that’s part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
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CBC | Sports News