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Colin Kaepernick liability waiver issue impacting NFL labor talks: Report

Thomas Barrabi

The dispute between free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s camp and NFL officials over a liability waiver has resurfaced during the league’s ongoing negotiations with the NFL Players Association toward a new labor deal, according to a report on Thursday.

NFL officials are pushing for the inclusion of a standardized liability waiver for players to sign before workouts, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a memo distributed to union members. The NFLPA identified the proposal, which some view as detrimental to players’ legal rights, as a key obstacle in current labor talks.

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Kaepernick, the free-agent quarterback best known for his role in leading player protests against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season, dropped out of an NFL-arranged workout last November after league officials asked him to sign a liability waiver. While NFL teams regularly ask players to sign injury waivers before workouts, Kaepernick’s camp argued at the time that the waiver contained “unusual” language that could have curtailed his ability to take legal action in the future.

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Kaepernick had filed a collusion grievance against the NFL’s 32 teams, alleging team owners and league officials conspired to keep him off the field due to his role in the protests. The two sides reached a financial settlement, and Kaepernick has repeatedly declared his intention to return to the NFL.

In the memo to union members, the NFLPA said the proposed liability waiver was one of multiple “current major issues” blocking a labor deal. The NFL’s current collective-bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season. The proposal's exact paraments, such as the language included in the standardized waiver, are unclear.

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The dispute over the issues is “significant enough that we cannot recommend to our membership that we should accept a deal in this state at this time,” the union said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The NFL’s revenue-sharing split and guaranteed compensation for players are also considered key issues in the labor talks. League officials are also pushing for an expanded regular-season slate of 17 games per team, up from 16 at present.

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