Colin Kaepernick’s attorney has accused the National Football League of “colluding” with President Donald Trump to blackball the ex-NFL quarterback and to ensure the adoption of a national anthem protest ban.
Court depositions on Wednesday obtained by The Wall Street Journal revealed President Trump’s influence on the NFL’s decision to implement an effective ban on players who protest the national anthem during league games.
A week ago, the NFL announced the owners’ decision to do away with national anthem protests, which were carried out by individual players without the sanction of the NFL Players Association. The decision, made nearly two years after Colin Kaepernick’s initial protests, rekindled the fury of activists.
The Journal’s story includes a reference to Trump’s involvement in the NFL decision via a comment he is said to have made to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Trump told Jones, according to a sworn deposition. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
But during an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump explained the NFL’s rule change this way, focusing on the general public and its role: “I think the people pushed it forward — this was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward.” He also noted that NFL owners “did the right thing” by instituting the new policy.
Jones, in his sworn deposition, refuted the notion that Trump singlehandedly changed the national debate.
“Let’s [not] give him that much credit,” he said. “But I recognize he’s the president of the United States.”
Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, is leading an internal collusion lawsuit against the NFL based on collective bargaining rules. President Trump’s correspondence with the league during the Kaepernick dispute is a focus.
The lawsuit argues that Kaepernick is “eminently qualified” to be an NFL quarterback, but league owners purportedly “entered into an enforced, implied and/or express agreements to specifically deprive” him of a roster spot on a team.
Furthermore, it argues that Trump was an “organizing force in the collusion,” due to what The Journal called his “relationships with various NFL owners, many of whom have backed him with campaign contributions.”
“They’re afraid of Trump, and they’ve colluded because of Trump,” Geragos claimed.
“The only reason — and the owners will admit that — they haven’t signed [Kaepernick] is they’re afraid of Trump, and they’ve colluded because of Trump,” Geragos told TMZ on Wednesday.
“Basically, at this point, they’ve made the choice that they’re going to opt on the side of the white, nationalistic side, as opposed to any other demographic,” he added.