Colin Kaepernickâ€™s lawyer said the free agent NFL quarterback is â€œopen to future participationâ€ in discussions between the leagueâ€™s owners and players about social justice, even as he challenges the league for allegedly colluding against him.
Kaepernick was not in attendance on Tuesday when the NFLâ€™s owners and players met in New York to discuss how to advance efforts at social reform beyond ongoing protests. The former San Francisco 49ers star became the first player to kneel during the national anthem last season, in a demonstration meant to call attention to social and racial injustice.
â€œColin Kaepernick was not invited to attend todayâ€™s meeting by any official from the NFL or any team executives,â€ attorney Mark Geragos said in a statement obtained by NFL Networkâ€™s Ian Rapoport. â€œOther players wanted him present and have asked that he attend the next meeting with the goal of forging a lasting and faithful consensus around these issues. Mr. Kaepernick is open to future participation on these important discussions.â€
The NFL and its players union said in a joint statement Tuesday that owners and a group of player representatives had a â€œproductiveâ€ conversation on how to enhance player efforts to speak out on social reform. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the meeting did not include discussions on the NFLâ€™s national anthem policy. At present, players are encouraged, but not required, to stand.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who attended the meeting, told reporters that the players had invited Kaepernick to attend.
Earlier this month, Kaepernick hired Geragos, who previously represented celebrity clients like Michael Jackson and Chris Brown, to represent him in a collusion grievance against the NFLâ€™s 32 owners. In the filing, Kaepernick alleges the league has conspired to prevent him from signing with a team due to his social justice efforts. Kaepernick has requested an arbitration hearing to plead his case.
"If the NFL (as well as all professional sports teams) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest -- which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago -- should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government," Geragos said in a statement earlier this week, according to ESPN.