Colin Kaepernick Files Collusion Grievance Against the NFL

According to ABC News, Colin Kaepernick is taking the NFL to court. He's filed a grievance accusing the league's team owners of collusion under its collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. Kaepernick has hired Mark Geragos (who has defended the likes of Michael Jackson and Chris Brown) to argue his case.

Each of the NFL's 32 teams has been sent a copy of the court document, as has the NFLPA. The complaint charges that owners and executives around the NFL "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."

Section 1 of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, outlining prohibited conduct that falls under the league’s definition of collusion:

Section 1. Prohibited Conduct:

(a) No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making as follows:

(i) whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player;

(ii) whether to submit or not to submit an Offer Sheet to any Restricted Free Agent;

(iii) whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player;

(iv) whether to exercise or not to exercise a Right of First Refusal; or

(v) concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a Player Contract.

(b) Any approval or disapproval of a player’s contract by the Commissioner, or any communication thereof, timely notice of which is provided to the NFLPA, cannot be the basis of any claim of collusion. The NFLPA or the affected Player shall have the right to appeal the Commissioner’s disapproval of such player contract to the System Arbitrator, pursuant to Article 15 and Article 14.

And here’s Section 6, which discusses the burden of proof for establishing collusion:

Section 6. Burden of Proof: The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 1 above. However, any of the types of evidence described in the preceding sentence may support a finding of a violation of Section 1 of this Article, but only in combination with other evidence which, by itself or in combination with such evidence, indicates that the challenged conduct was in violation of Section 1 of this Article. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFL or its Clubs from arguing that any evidence is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFLPA or any player from arguing that any evidence is sufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above, except as set forth above.

The NFL Players Association said in a statement that it had been in contact with Kaepernick for the past year about his options, but only today learned he had decided to file the grievance, through media reports. Read more here.