According to CBS Sports, a demand for arbitration filed by attorney Mark Geragos on behalf of Colin Kaepernick points to President Donald Trump’s coercion as a major cause of his unemployment in the NFL. The still-unsigned free agent has had neither an invitation to work out nor has he been offered a job despite many teams needing a viable quarterback. Kaepernick’s legal team is convinced that owners engaged in “unusual and bizarre behavior” as they made a collective decision to comply with Trump’s wishes of not employing the veteran player.
It’s no secret that Trump wants players who don’t stand for the anthem permanently sidelined. In addition to multiple tweets on the subject of the protests, Trump outright called Kaepernick and those with him a “son of a b*tch” at an Alabama GOP rally. He implored owners to fire players who disrespect the country, the flag, and the anthem. Trump has even chastised NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing the protests to continue while praising Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for threatening to bench any of his players who take a knee.
In order to prove that the owners engaged in collusion, however, more evidence will have to be gathered. According to the complaint, owners are warned that the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Federal Rules of Evidence mandate that “all documents, emails, text messages, memoranda, notes, and all other electronically stored information (ESI)” must be preserved and handed over upon demand.
“Any deletion of or tampering with evidence shall be deemed willful spoilation and will subject you and your agents to the fullest extent of penalties permitted by law,” the complaint reads.
At the fall NFL owners meeting, as reported by Sporting News, there will be discussions about how to unify the league over the issue of national anthem protests. Kaepernick will not be in attendance. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a league memo the protests are “threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us and our players from many fans across the country.” While league executives, NFL Players Association leadership, and current and former players will debate the issue, league spokesman Joe Lockart said that to his knowledge Kaepernick’s grievance wouldn’t be on the agenda.
By and large, it will be difficult to ignore the elephant in the room as Kaepernick’s protests last season prompted participation from other players across the NFL, and they continue to this day. But if the owners bowed to Trump due to fears of getting a “nasty tweet” from the Commander-In-Chief, they engaged in collusion. And if Kaepernick’s legal team gets the evidence to prove it, the owners will be made to pay.
[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]