Former 49ers second string quarterback Colin Kaepernick lawyered up over the weekend, and has now filed a grievance claiming all 32 NFL teams conspired to keep him off the field.
Kaepernick, and his attorney — celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos — say that all 32 team owners conspired together to deny him a spot in professional football, even though Kaepernick walked away from a one-year option on his contract with the 49ers, and hasn't been an asset to any football team since 2013.
NFL owners, the complaint says, "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." Kaepernick contends that it's a "statistical impossibility" that he has not, so far, obtained gainful employment as a professional football player.
The complaint also alleges that President Donald Trump, the "executive branch of the United States government" is at the heart of the collective agreement; Kaepernick claims that he's been out of work in "response to coercion and calculated coordination from the Executive Branch of the United States government."
Kaepernick and Geragos took the unusual step of bypassing the NFL Players Association, the union which prosecutes and arbitrates player grievances under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Instead, Kaepernick and Geragos say they want their own private artibration hearings with NFL owners — something that may not be possible without the support or backing of the NFLPA, who says they only found out about the filing Monday morning after reading about it in the news.
Geragos — who has represented the likes of Michael Jackson (in his infamous sexual molestation cases), Winona Ryder (after she shoplifted from Fred Segal in the 90s), and Chris Brown — took the opportunity to make a grand statement on social media.
"If the NFL (as well as all professional sports teams) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful 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," Geragos said. "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," he continued.
Several teams have been in the market for a backup quarterback this year, but chose other options over Kaepernick. The Baltimore Ravens reportedly axed Kaepernick as a possibility after his girlfriend posted a critique of Ray Lewis. The Tennessee Titans have an injury on their bench but, according to ESPN, aren't sure if they've considered the former 49er. The Miami Dolphins took retired QB Jay Cutler over Kaepernick, presumably because bringing a man who worships Fidel Castro onto the team would cause issues with Miami's heavily Cuban fan base.