American football star Colin Kaepernick is suing the NFL over claims team owners “colluded” to not hire him following his now famous ‘take a knee’ protest against racial injustice.
Kaepernick was playing with the San Francisco 49ers when he first knelt during the national anthem in August last year. What started as a one-man demonstration against police brutality against African Americans has turned into a national movement that has divided the country and been targeted by US President Donald Trump. Last week, Vice-President Mike Pence walked out of a game in Indianapolis after some players knelt during the anthem.
However, while his protest has taken off, Kaepernick’s career has stalled and he has been without a team since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March.
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Now he has decided to take legal action against what he sees as an coordinated plot to keep him off the field.
In a statement announcing the lawsuit, Kaepernick’s lawyers wrote: “If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) 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 and athletes should not be denied employment”.
“Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr Kaepernick to file his grievance” they added.
“Many feel Kaepernick has paid a high price for his political stance”, says BBC Radio 5 Live’s Richard Conway.
Despite injuries to quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota at the Tennessee Titans he has had to watch on as others were given a trial and “it seems he’s grown tired of this situation and is now taking direct action”, says the sports correspondent.
Speaking to BBC Sport last week, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots said he had “never heard anyone talking about excluding” Kaepernick.
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