NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Sunday filed a grievance under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, alleging executives colluded against him and prevented the free agent from re-signing with another team.
“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 greater 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 lawyer Mark Geragos said in a statement.
“Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation.”
In the documents sent to the NFL, the NFL Players Association, and all 32 teams before being obtained by ABC, Kaepernick claims the NFL and its owners “colluded to deprive” him of “employment rights in retaliation for” his “leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
Kaepernick’s national profile exploded into the political realm during the 2016-17 regular season when he started kneeling or sitting down during the national anthem before games while he was still signed to the San Francisco 49ers.
His contract with the team, for which he played for from 2011 to 2016, has since been severed.
The filing of Kaepernick’s grievance comes after players who refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” were subject to intense scrutiny from President Trump, with the president going so far as to call them “sons of bitches” at a campaign rally in September.
Trump’s comment sparked a backlash among professional athletes and triggered more demonstrations.
Executives and the NFLPA are set to meet for the Fall League Meeting on Oct. 17 and Oct. 18 in New York City to discuss rules governing player protests during the anthem.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner