Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has officially filed a grievance against NFL owners for alleged blackballing, reports ESPN.
Instead of doing this through the NFL Players Association, he has hired high-profile attorney Mark Geragos, who has previously represented a number of celebrities.
In the filing, it says the NFL and its 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.”
On Twitter, Kaepernick said he filed the grievance “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”
“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 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 continued.
The NFLPA said in a statement that it offers Kaepernick its support and expressed its readiness to assist him, “as we do all players.”
Kaepernick took the national spotlight last season, when he chose not to stand for the national anthem, before starting a movement where he would kneel instead.
In March, he opted out of his deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, he has remained a free agent, without any team expressing interest in signing him.