Colin Kaepernick Collusion Case: NFL and Former 49ers QB Will Go to Trial

The NFL has failed in an attempt to get Colin Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the 32 league owners dismissed. The case will now go to a trial.

On Thursday, arbitrator Stephen Burbank announced the case will proceed as there was sufficient evidence of collusion for it to be brought forward.

“The System Arbitrator denied the NFL’s request that he dismiss Colin Kaepernick’s complaint alleging that his inability to secure a player contract since becoming a free agent in March 2017 has been due to an agreement among team owners and the NFL that violates Article 17, Section 1 of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA,” Burbank’s statement said.

Kaepernick rose to prominence in 2016 as he opted to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem as an act of silent protest against social and racial injustice.

The gesture drew a mixed response within the sport and outside the NFL’s sphere, but it also served as an example for a number of other NFL players who chose to emulate their colleague.

After becoming a free agent, Kaepernick wasn't given a tryout, which has led him to accuse the NFL franchises of colluding with each other to prevent him from returning to the league.

GettyImages-631422676 Colin Kaepernick then #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

Burbank’s decision means that owners, coaches and team executives will in all likelihood be called to testify.

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway, Houston Texas owner Bob McNair and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have already given a deposition in the collusion suit.

Last week, Elway was rebuked by Kaepernick’s lawyer for breaching a gag order in the case, after he revealed the quarterback had passed on the chance to join the franchise two years ago.

"You know what, and I said this a while ago: Colin had his chance to be here,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

“We offered him a contract. He didn't take it," Elway said. "As I said in my deposition [...] he's had his chance to be here. He passed it."

Tellingly, Elway had prefaced his words by admitting: “I don’t know if I’ll be legally able to say this.”

Kaepernick's lawyer, Mark Geragos, argued the Broncos’ GM had indeed violated a confidentiality order from his deposition in the former San Francisco 49ers player’s lawsuit against the NFL.

“Mr. Elway, clearly he violated the protective order that the NFL has been wielding like a club at me,” Geragos said over the weekend on his " Reasonable Doubt" podcast.

Eric Reid, who played alongside Kaepernick for the 49ers and was among the first players to join his teammate in protest, has filed a similar grievance, which remains pending.

Reid, who like Kaepernick is still a free agent, also alleges NFL owners colluded together to not sign him.

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