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Tuesday 17th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Quarterback claims owners are now colluding to keep him out of a job

FORMER San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken his fight to the NFL, alleging team bosses have blacklisted him for his pre-game protests against racial discrimination and police brutality.

Mark Geragos, one of Kaepernick’s lawyers, announced on Sunday that he had filed the grievance “only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.”

“If the NFL is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theatre imitating weeks ago — should not be punished,” Geragos said.

“Athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government,” he demanding, referring to President Donald Trump’s demand that NFL bosses fire players who protest.

Kaepernick started a national conversation in the United States about political activism by athletes last season when he decided to sit, and then kneel, during the US national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against and killings of black people. Other players have continued the protests this season.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers at the end of last season and remains a free agent despite a rash of injuries and poor play at the quarterback position.

San Francisco safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, has been kneeling during the anthem before games, including Sunday’s 26-24 loss at the Washington Redskins.

“I think all the stats prove that [Kaepernick is] an NFL-worthy quarterback,” Reed said.

The NFL players’ union said it would support the grievance, which was filed through the arbitration system that’s part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

“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,” Geragos said.

Six days ago NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all team owners in which he said “everyone should stand for the national anthem.”

“The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country.”

Goodell’s memo came after US Vice-President Mike Pence carried out a staged walkout of the Indianapolis Colts’ game against the San Francisco 49ers after a large number of 49ers players knelt during the anthem.

Owners will meet this week to consider changes to the game manual that says players “should” stand during the national anthem.