Kaepernick not blackballed by NFL, claims 49ers owner York
The San Francisco 49ers' owner Jed York disagrees with Colin Kaepernick's claims of collusion among NFL bosses.
Kaepernick has remained unsigned since opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this year, and on Sunday filed a grievance against the league owners.
He attracted controversy last year when he became the first player to refuse to stand for the national anthem as a sign of protest against what he called racial injustice in the United States.
Many other players have since followed his lead, leading to fan protests and concern among owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that the actions were hurting TV ratings and attendance.
"Obviously, there's the [grievance] that's going on, so it's hard for me to get into any details or really share my opinion, but I don't believe that there's base to that claim that he's being blackballed," York said in quotes reported by ESPN.
York and the 49ers donated $1million last year to causes Kaepernick supported. Earlier this week while at the NFL's owners meetings, York attended a special meeting with 13 current or former players, 11 owners and representatives from the league and the NFL Players Association.
"I think the more that you had owners and players together, not just me meeting with 49ers players but several owners meeting with players from different teams, and it's not about collective bargaining issues, it's not about workplace environment, it's really understanding where different people come from," York said.
"You're seeing people who might not understand that firsthand and they're getting a much better perspective."
York said his support for Kaepernick has nothing to do with his politics, but his willingness to be open-minded.
"The more you can have conversation, the more you can actually see where other people are coming from, I think the more enlightened you can be," he said.
"And for me, I am not the most left-wing person in the world. I realise people are trying to sort of paint me as that. That's not my background politically and how I grew up, but I think a lot of these things are common-sense issues, and when you actually sit down and talk to people and you know where people are coming from, it's hard to not be sympathetic and empathetic."