NEW YORK • Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a National Football League (NFL) free agent who last year began the kneeling protest during the pre-game US anthem that became a major controversy, has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.
Six weeks into the season, the 29-year-old is still without a job despite a number of openings created by injuries to other quarterbacks. Kaepernick and his lawyer, Mark Geragos, are claiming the owners violated terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), specifically a clause that prohibits teams from acting together in regard to a player's employment status.
He filed his grievance on Sunday, just days before the owners are scheduled to meet.
"We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick," Geragos said in a statement.
"This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.
"If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protests... should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment."
Kaepernick, who spent six seasons with the 49ers, appears ready to go to court rather than go through the players' union with his grievance claim.
He opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March but found no team willing to sign him despite past success.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has denied the league has deliberately kept Kaepernick off rosters, but he has not been given a tryout even as quarterbacks have become injured in recent weeks.