New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and at least two other NFL team owners will reportedly be deposed and asked to turn over their cell phone records and emails in connection with the Colin Kaepernick collusion case against the league.
A league source tells ESPN's Adam Schefter that Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair are among the owners who will be deposed.
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Other owners, teams and league officials will also be deposed, but Schefter said he has only confirmed Kraft, Jones and McNair at this point.
“It could be as simple as showing two owners exchanged a conversation along the lines of you know this isn’t good for business…we shouldn’t bring him back in the league,” said Michael Coyne, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. “And that would be a smoking gun.”
Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, filed a grievance against the NFL in mid-October, alleging that he was still unsigned due to collusion between owners as a result of his protests during the national anthem to bring attention to the mistreatment of black people by police.
Players from around the league have joined in Kaepernick's protest this season, which has drawn angry responses from President Donald Trump and others in his administration.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers at the end of last season and remains a free agent despite a rash of injuries and poor play at the quarterback position.
Mark Geragos, one of Kaepernick's attorneys, said he filed the grievance "only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives."
In a brief interview, Geragos told NBC Boston the primary goal is to get Kaepernick to play again. Geragos says “beyond any doubt” the league has been colluding against his client, and he’s interested to hear what Mr. Kraft has to say.
"If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished," Geragos said, "and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation."
The NFL players' union has said it will support the grievance, which was filed through the arbitration system that's part of the league's collective bargaining agreement.
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"Colin Kaepernick's goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field," Geragos said.
Jones recently came under fire for reportedly saying "we can't have the inmates running the prison" during an NFL owners meeting regarding what to do about the ongoing players protest.
A recent HBO Real Sports/Marist poll found that 51 percent of Americans oppose proposed league rules that would require players to stand during the national anthem, compared with 47 percent who supported such a rule.
The New England Patriots declined to comment.