Colin Kaepernick has filed a lawsuit against NFL team owners, alleging that they are conspiring not to hire him because of his anthem protests.
The 29-year-old has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March, with no other NFL team showing any interest in acquiring his services.
Kaepernick’s first protest was in August 2016, when he sat down during the singing of the national anthem. He later opted to kneel instead.
More recently, similar protests spread like wildfire throughout the NFL, particularly after US President Donal Trump criticised the organisation and its players for allowing it to occur.
In a statement released on Sunday, Kaepernick’s lawyers said: “We can confirm that this morning we filed a grievance under the CBA on behalf of Colin Kaepernick.
“This was done only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives.
“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.
“Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”