Colin Kaepernick, the free agent NFL quarterback at the center of the national anthem-kneeling controversy, was spotted at Penn Law School on Thursday with a team of lawyers in a likely development of the case alleging there was collusion between teams to keep him out of the league.
Marooned in free agency since the offseason after he began kneeling during pre-game national anthems in 2016, Kaepernick and his legal team have argued that multiple teams, or the league at large, have blackballed him because of the controversy his protests brought with him.
The league, for its part, has defended itself by saying that there was never any such collusion or agreement, though leaked indicate that Kaepernick and the topic of the anthem protests weighed heavily on NFL team owners during a board meeting last year.
Kaepernick appeared on campus on Thursday because many of the developments in the case have been taking place at Penn, as Penn Law professor Stephen Burbank is the internal collusion lawsuit as the league’s system arbitrator.
Burbank’s internal investigation seems to stand at an advanced stage, as attorneys for Kaepernick had previously noted this year that a wide variety of electronic communications had been searched for potential evidence, in addition to the depositions of various NFL administrators.
It is currently unclear what the purpose of Thursday’s visit was, but recent reports indicate that the case has moved to a critical point, as the NFL allegedly pushed for Burbank to issue a on the case — essentially a thumbs-up or -down on whether the case should be allowed to continue based on evidence gathered by both sides.
Kaepernick declined to comment when asked about the outcome of the meeting.
If Thursday’s meeting had any relation to the summary judgment, it will be a pivotal moment in the case, and Burbank will stand at the center of it. If Burbank rules that Kaepernick’s team has found evidence to move toward a hearing, the case will continue. If he finds that the current evidence provides insufficient grounds for pursuing the collusion case, he can dismiss the case in favor of the NFL.
The outcome of the case is sure to have national implications. President Donald Trump has targeted Kaepernick frequently in his comments against African-Americans protesting race relations in the United States, and any definitive ruling one way or another is likely to catch his attention. That ruling remains unknown, but could become clear in the near future as the case nears its conclusion.