A lawyer for national anthem protester Colin Kaepernick says that the NFL canceled a special one-on-one meeting it had offered the player with Commissioner Roger Goodell, but the league disputes the lawyer’s claim.
News broke on November 7 that the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, had sent an October 31 text message inviting the former San Francisco 49ers player to New York to a private meeting with Goodell.
As the story was reported yesterday, league spokesman Joe Lockhart had confirmed the offer but insisted that Kaepernick had not gotten back to them as to whether or not he would accept the offer.
However, today the player’s representative is insisting that they readily agreed to the meeting but were turned away when they asked for a mediator to be present at the meeting.
Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s attorney, told ABC News they “responded immediately that Colin would be happy to attend,” but that after requesting the mediator’s presence were told that wasn’t acceptable to the league.
“We responded immediately that Colin would be happy to attend,” Geragos told ABC News. “Because of the grievance, we asked that a mediator be present. A mediator also would ensure that the discussions were productive and confidential and not used as a PR stunt or prop by the league. Colin’s proposal was rejected.”
The lawyer’s statement earned an immediate reply from the league with Lockhart scolding Kaepernick for violating union rules.
“Mr. Geragos’ statement alone violates the collective bargaining agreement,” Lockhart said, “breaking the confidentiality of the grievance process. So he can save his lecture on PR stunts. The invitation remains open.
“This isn’t about his lawyer. This isn’t about a mediator. The question of, ‘Has [Colin] been invited in?’ the answer is yes,” Lockhart added in a statement to Yahoo Sports. “This isn’t part of any grievance process. This is part of the overall discussion we’ve been having on some of these social issues.”
The former 49er quarterback filed a grievance nearly a month ago alleging that the owners of the league had “colluded” to keep him out of the league when he became a free agent after spending a year protesting against the country during the playing of the national anthem.
Kaepernick’s actions launched similar protests by hundreds of players who began standing against the country, the flag, and our first responders during the anthem, protests that have now plagued the league since last season.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.