By: Jeremy Skinner, Managing Editor, J.D. Candidate, May 2019, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Was Colin Kaepernick blackballed from joining a National Football League “NFL” team? That is what one Court will find out. Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers starting QB, initially filed a grievance against the NFL claiming that the owners “conspired to keep him out the league because of his protests of social injustice.” Recently, pursuant to the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kaepernick and the NFL’s representatives have been working with an arbitrator in order to determine whether Kaepernick had a sufficient cause to pursue his lawsuit in Court. The arbitrator denied the NFL’s motion for summary judgment because the arbitrator “unearthed” enough evidence to allow Kaepernick’s claim to move forward.

Colin Kaepernick first gained spotlight while a member and quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers where he helped lead the team to its first Super Bowl Appearance in nearly two decades against the Ravens in 2012. He went on to play for four more seasons but was never re-signed for a new team. Some speculate that he was not good enough, despite previously leading a team to the super bowl, to make a new team. Others speculate, including Kaepernick, speculate that NFL Owners blackballed and colluded against him from signing with a team due to Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem. NFL teams received backlash from several fans and some owners took offense to Kaepernick’s actions. Kaepernick’s view was that he did not want “to stand up to show pride in a flag or a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Nearly two years later, Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed by the NFL. He filed suit with the NFL and pursuant to the NFL bargaining Agreement, he went to arbitration. The recent decision by the arbitrator is a small victory for Kaepernick as his lawsuit will move in front of a judge in a public setting. Despite his small victory, unfortunately, Kaepernick has an uphill battle proving collusion by the NFL owners because it is difficult to prove collusion without direct evidence. On the other hand, Kaepernick must have some type of direct evidence if an arbitrator determined there was sufficient evidence to survive Summary Judgment in the arbitration stage. Only time will tell the true reason for Colin Kaepernick not being on an NFL team despite his on the field success.