Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL on Oct. 18, alleging that the league’s owners violated the current collective bargaining agreement by colluding to prevent him from being signed by a team.
Pro Football Talk reported a statement released by Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, confirming the grievance filed.
FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2017 file photo San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands on the sideline during an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter Monday Oct. 16, 2017 to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith saying he believes players are showing disrespect for the flag and veterans. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests last season when he refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
“We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick. This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives,” Geragos said in the statement.
“If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protests—which the owners themselves made great theatre 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. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr. Kaepernick to file his grievance.
“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.”
According to ThinkProgress.org, under the CBA, the league’s owners (and any other representative of the NFL, including executives, coaches or agents) are prohibited from making, expressing or implying any agreement to restrict or limit a team’s decision-making in relation to contract offers/negotiations or terms/conditions of employment.
Since opting out of his deal with the 49ers during the offseason, Kaepernick—who first originated the nationwide trend of athletes protesting against police brutality and racism in the U.S. by sitting or kneeling during the playing of the national anthem—has not been signed by any of the NFL’s 32 teams, despite several other quarterbacks with far less qualified resumes being signed over the same time span. This has created speculation that the league owners have colluded to blackball Kaepernick from playing in the NFL as punishment for his acts of protest. President Donald Trump has since fueled further speculation by continuously encouraging all NFL owners to terminate any players that don’t stand for the playing of the anthem.
Should Kaepernick be successful in proving the league’s owners have colluded against him, it would be a direct breach of the CBA between the owners and players, perhaps forcing them to start negotiations on a new deal, where players could then fight for more rights contractually, including rights to a platform for protest, larger portions of the league’s revenues and even greater safety policies.