Colin Kaepernick, a lightning rod in the anthem-kneeling controversy, appeared Thursday at a hearing that could lead to the dismissal of the ex-49ers quarterback’s collusion grievance against the NFL, according to reports.
The 30-year-old, who last played in 2016, was spotted with his legal team at the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where they met arbitrator Stephen Burbank, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
Burbank, a professor at Penn Law, has been asked by the NFL to make a summary judgment on whether Kaepernick’s case should move forward, phillyvoice.com reported.
Kaepernick declined to comment when asked about the outcome of the meeting.
Under the league’s collective-bargaining agreement, his legal team must prove to Burbank that at least two teams actively worked together to harm the free agent, who many believe deserves to play.
Kaepernick began taking a knee during preseason games in August 2016 to protest “systematic oppression.” His actions inspired others to stage their own protests on the field.
The activist athlete has argued that his actions and the ensuing controversy have led multiple teams, or the NFL at large, to blackball him – but the league has insisted that such collusion never existed.
If Burbank rules that Kaepernick hasn’t met the burden of proof set forth in the collective-bargaining agreement, it’s likely that his grievance will be thrown out, Yahoo Sports reported.
But if the arbitrator sides with Kaepernick, the case will proceed, eventually resulting in a hearing of the evidence collected by each side during the past 10 months of discovery and depositions.
It is not known when Burbank will make his ruling. In 2012, he sided in favor of the NFL regarding the New Orleans Saints bounty system in which opposing players were targeted for injury.
Burbank ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the power to punish Saints players.
The Kaepernick case’s outcome is sure to have national implications.
President Trump, who frequently targeted Kaepernick in his Twitter tirades, on Friday renewed his attacks on protesting NFL players after several took knees or raised their fists before preseason games.
“The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted.
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