Serena Williams applauds work being done by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid

Serena Williams applauds work being done by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid

Colin Kaepernick and his legal team are driving inside NFL territory, forcing the league and its 32 teams to brace for a defensive stand.

An arbitrator has sent Colin Kaepernick's grievance with the National Football League to trial.

The summary judgment phase came specifically at the request of the National Football League, which hoped it would lead to Kaepernick's grievance being thrown out.

The NFL had requested summary judgment by Burbank, which amounted to a request for him to dismiss the case.

Kaepernick began a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago, kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.

As NPR's Tom Goldman reported previous year, Kaepernick - who led the 49ers to two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl - should have been a hot prospect as a free agent, bolstering the perception for some that he was being snubbed.

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Several NFL owners, decision makers and coaches have been deposed in Kaepernick's case, including the Texans' Bob McNair, Cowboys' Jerry Jones, Broncos GM John Elway and Baltimore's John Harbaugh and Seattle's Pete Carroll, among others. The protests have grown into one of the most polarizing issues in sports, with President Donald Trump loudly urging the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during the anthem.

Burbank's ruling in the former NFL quarterback's claim against the league means there was enough evidence of collusion to keep the case going.

Former San Francisco 49ers players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid made an appearance during the blockbuster match and received a standing ovation on Arthur Ashe Stadium in NY on Friday.

The case hinges on whether owners worked together rather than decided individually to not sign Kaepernick.

Players' protests during the anthem continued last season with Kaepernick out of the league. Amid all of it, Williams said athletes - and people in general - should be grateful for the conversations they've started.

She and her sister are minority owners of the Miami Dolphins.

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