Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance of collusion against the NFL's owners under the collective bargaining agreement. Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman first reported the news on Sunday afternoon, adding that the free agent quarterback has hired Mark Geragos as his attorney rather than going through the NFL Players Association.
"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," Kaepernick's legal team said in a statement. "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," the statement continues.
The NFLPA also released a statement on Sunday, saying it has a "duty to assist Mr. Kaepernick as we do all players and we will support him."
NFLPA Statement on Colin Kaepernick Collusion Grievance: pic.twitter.com/TIJXSe2XFg— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 16, 2017
After becoming the first NFL player to stage a protest against racial inequality during the national anthem last season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers to become a free agent this summer. While many believe he is still good enough to play in the NFL, he hasn't received much interest since becoming a free agent, prompting some to believe that he has been "blackballed." The last straw for Kaepernick came when the Tennessee Titans signed Brandon Weeden over him in October, a source told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
In a recent interview, former Titans general manager Floyd Reese gave three reasons for why he believes the team didn't sign Kaepernick, one of which was that Kaepernick is not worth the "circus."
"You don't want this circus," Reese said. "We just talked last week about how you thought Delanie Walker getting a death threat cost them the game. Well, you can imagine what's coming with this."
For Kaepernick to prove collusion, he would need to show that two or more teams – or the NFL and at least one team – "conspired in some way to deny him an opportunity to play in the NFL," according to Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann. McCann also notes that Kaepernick stands to receive "a sizable amount of money" if he can prove collusion.