Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick filed a grievance under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement Sunday, alleging collusion that has denied him a job with a team this season.
"Respondents NFL and NFL Team 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," Kaepernick's representatives wrote in the claim.
NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart declined to comment on Kaepernick's grievance during a Monday conference call with reporters, citing confidentiality requirements of arbitration proceedings.
Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem before games during the 2016 season to protest racial inequality and other social injustices, has remained a free agent since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers last March. He visited with the Seahawks during the summer and was discussed as an option for the Ravens after Joe Flacco injured his back in training camp. Both teams ultimately decided not to sign him.
According to Gabe Feldman, NFL Network legal analyst and director of the Tulane University Sports Law Program, "Kaepernick's collusion complaint will be heard by a neutral arbitrator pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. Kaepernick will have to prove that two or more teams conspired to keep him out of the league."
Per Feldman, it will be difficult for Kaepernick to win a collusion case "absent a 'smoking gun' that provides evidence of actual collusion as opposed to speculation."