3. Kaepernick's right-to-work lawsuit
Lawyers for the NFL are expected this week to begin handing over documents sought by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his lawsuit alleging collusion to keep him from working. Kaepernick accuses the league of blackballing him because of his political protest of the treatment of blacks at the hands of police.
Legal experts say he will have a tough time proving his case, but his lawyer Mark Geragos tells Axios that's because they don't understand the law.
Why it matters: The case is highly politicized. Since Kaepernick began going down on one knee during the national anthem before his games in 2016, dozens of other players followed suit, making him a proud symbol for black athletes and others sharing his views. At the same time, he became a lightning rod for critics, including President Trump who called him unpatriotic.
The background: In 2012, Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, their first appearance since 1994. The team reached the conference final the next season, but failed to get to the playoffs for the next three seasons, and Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March 2017. He has not played since.
The fine print: There are 64 quarterback slots in the league when you count backups, and several have been signed since Kaepernick became a free agent, some of whom seemingly have lesser ability than him.
- The NFL collective bargaining agreement bars the teams from deciding collectively "to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player."
- Brad Snyder, a law professor at Georgetown, tells Axios that it will be difficult for Kaepernick to prove the agreement was violated — that there was collusion among the teams. "It's very possible that all the teams came to this same conclusion that, 'We don't want to hire this guy.' That's not illegal."
- But Geragos says that to prove his case he needs only an implied agreement among one or more teams. "We are confident that at a minimum we will be able to prove that the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] impliedly was violated by circumstantial evidence. We expect that direct and express evidence exists as well."
Both the NFL and Kaepernick declined to comment.
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