Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job as an NFL quarterback.
Brandon Weeden does. Ryan Mallett does. Chad Henne does.
Because these guys are clearly inferior to Kaepernick—who once led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl then made it to the conference championship a year later, but who also started the trend of protests during pregame renditions of the national anthem—the quarterback has filed a grievance against NFL owners for collusion, claiming he’s being blackballed.
According to the filing, the NFL and the league’s owners “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.”
The filing also demands a hearing.
“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,” Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos 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.”
There’s just one problem: Collusion, particularly how it’s outlined in the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, is immensely difficult to prove.
“Kaepernick has a really tough road to hoe to make this case out. Really tough,” employment law attorney Michael Elkins told the New York Daily News. “Unless he comes up with some smoking-gun email or text message, which isn’t going to exist because these owners are smart people, it’s going to be very tough.”