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Report: Pivotal Hearing in Kaepernick Collusion Case vs NFL Begins

Kaep, Goodell
The Associated Press

Lawyers representing anthem protester and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, met with lawyers representing the NFL in front of an arbitrator on Thursday to decide whether Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the NFL will proceed.

As Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reports:

The hearing is taking place in response to the NFL’s request for summary judgement. 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.

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.

As for why the NFL chose this particular legal route, Robinson explains:

This pivot point was brought about by the NFL, which seized upon a part of the CBA that allows the league to request a summary judgement to a collusion complaint after a period of discovery has taken place. According to multiple sources who spoke with Yahoo Sports, the NFL did exactly that in May.

That request resulted in the NFL’s lawyers shooting off a cannon fire of legal paperwork to Burbank, ultimately seeking to lay out two key assertions to the arbitrator: First, the NFL wants to set the standard of proof it believes Kaepernick needs to meet to win his case; and second, the league’s lawyers want to make it clear they don’t believe Kaepernick is anywhere near meeting that standard of proof.

Per the CBA, Kaepernick’s camp had to respond to the league’s argument, essentially making its own case for why the complaint should continue.

Those two opposing arguments set the stage for Thursday’s hearing.

Even if Burbank allows Kaepernick’s grievance to move forward, by requesting the arbitration hearing the NFL’s lawyers will have forced the former 49er’s legal team to tip their hand in terms of how they plan to make their case, and what their actual evidence is.

As Robinson points out, even if Kaepernick’s side loses the arbitration hearing, they could still pursue a federal case against President Trump. Especially considering that Kaepernick lead attorney Mark Geragos has charged that President Trump influenced NFL owners to make sure his client was kept out of the league.

Such an event is still a ways off. Though, whatever comes next, it will be in reaction to what happens at the arbitration hearing on Thursday.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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