Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who drew nationwide attention last year for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police discrimination against minorities, filed a grievance against the NFL Sunday, accusing team owners of colluding to deny him a QB spot this season due to his activism.
“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 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,” said Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s attorney, in a statement.
Geragos has previously represented high-profile clients like Michael Jackson, P. Diddy and Winona Ryder.
Kaepernick hasn’t had a team since March, when he split with the 49ers, but he has attracted numerous supporters and critics across the country since.
It also provoked a vitriolic response from the Trump administration.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,’” President Trump told a crowd at an Alabama speech in September.
The NFL has not responded to Kaepernick’s grievance, which seeks an arbitration process under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, but the NFL Players Association said Sunday that it would support the quarterback, “as we do all players.”
NFL team owners and union representatives meet this week to discuss national anthem protests, among other issues.