Colin Kaepernick could lose his collusion grievance against the NFL and still sue President Trump in federal court, says Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson. The likelihood of such a lawsuit became a media issue Thursday when attorneys for the NFL and Kaepernick met with an arbitrator to determine if the disgruntled former football player's collusion grievance will be allowed to go forward or not.
Robinson reports that Thursday was "the most pivotal moment to date in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL," because lawyers for both sides met before arbitrator Stephen Burbank Thursday to determine whether or not the complaint is solid enough to go forward.
The hearing resulted from the NFL’s request for summary judgment. Robinson says, "The league alleges that Kaepernick’s legal team hasn’t reached the standard to prove collusion. If Burbank sides with the NFL, ruling that Kaepernick hasn’t met the burden of proof set forth by the collective bargaining agreement, it’s likely that his grievance will be dismissed."
However, If Burbank sides with Kaepernick, "it would effectively mean the case will move forward, eventually resulting in a hearing of the evidence culled by each side during the past 10 months of discovery and depositions."
Robinson reports the NFL’s lawyers shot off "a cannon fire of legal paperwork to Burbank, ultimately seeking to lay out two key assertions to the arbitrator." The league is attempting to demonstrate the standard of proof Kaepernick's team must establish in order for the case to move forward and demonstrate he has not met that standard.
By asking for summary judgment, the NFL could sack Kaepernick's collusion case. It also allows the league to force his lawyers to reveal their plan of attack by forcing him to put his cards on the table and show the arbitrator what evidence they've collected during the depositions of owners and others. Additionally, Robinson writes:
"If Kaepernick wins the judgment Thursday, it will be significant. It will be a clear signal that at the very least, Burbank sees smoke where Kaepernick’s team is alleging fire. And it could also create a situation where Kaepernick’s team could press for more discovery or depositions as it seeks to prove its case.
"From the opposite vantage, if the NFL wins, it effectively ends the collective bargaining portion of the Kaepernick saga. That would give the league a significant (and most like winning) foundation going forward if Kaepernick chose to press his case in federal court, with the NFL arguing that the CBA’s mechanism for sorting out the complaint had already come to a decision. The NFL could then argue that federal courts can’t interfere with an arbitration decision in a system that was collectively bargained by the league in the union."
Scarce is the story of NFL, protests and Kaepernick that doesn't include mention of President Donald Trump. Robinson ends his report by speculating on a possible Hail Mary! pass Kaepernick could throw against the president:
"What an arbitration decision doesn’t guarantee is that Kaepernick won’t pursue a federal lawsuit against President Donald Trump. A key component of Kaepernick’s collusion complaint has been that Trump influenced team owners to keep him out of the NFL. Even if an arbitrator doesn’t side with Kaepernick, the quarterback and his legal team could still believe they have the necessary evidence to take Trump to court."
Kaepernick’s collusion case has focused on Trump throughout the depositions of owners who have some ties to the president. "Interestingly, a federal suit against Trump could become more problematic for the NFL, as depositions and other materials under seal in the collusion case could be drawn in as evidence and eventually made public," Robinson writes.
But like most Hail Mary's, such a suit would only be a last-ditch effort, "One that may not be required after Thursday. And that’s part of what makes the hearing before Burbank so pivotal," Robinson concluded.
Robinson neglected to mention how much time Burbank has to announce his decision on the NFL's request for summary judgment.