Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL on Sunday, accusing them of collusion. According to the Associated Press, he claims he remains unemployed because the NFL owners participated in collusion over the national anthem protests Kaepernick ignited.
Last season, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kickstarted a national conversation about the mistreatment of African-Americans by police. He started sitting, which he later changed to kneeling, during the national anthem. Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and NFL longsnapper encouraged him to kneel instead of sit during the protesting, USA Today reports.
Other players have followed in Kaepernick’s steps, prompting both widespread support and anger. President Donald Trump has called for the firing of players who refuse to stand during the anthem.
Kaepernick is currently a free agent.
The filing says the owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States,” according to ESPN.
One of Kaepernick’s attorneys Mark Geragos, tweeted on Sunday that he filed the grievance “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives. He continured, "If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation.”
San Francisco safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, supports the filing.
“It sure does seem like he’s being blackballed,” he said. "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.”
Many blame Kaepernick’s free agency on a conspiracy of sorts, especially since quarterbacks have suffered injuries and poor play this season. And while seems like there could be collusion, is the evidence enough to stand in court?
Vermont Assistant Attorney General Ryan Kriger talked to Oxygen about antitrust collusion, which is a violation of the Sherman Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.
“In order to prove collusion, generally speaking, it’s challenging,” Kriger said. “You need some sort of evidence that two parties have communicated that they have an anticompetitive agreement. You need actual evidence of conversations: emails, recordings of conversations, letters, testimony from participants. Generally speaking, it’s not enough to say ‘here’s the effect that shows that these guys probably colluded.’”
Geragos has stated that he is proud to represent Kaepernick.
“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,” Geragos said.
[Photo: Getty Images]