Rep. Hank Johnson warns NFL about treatment of Colin Kaepernick

The DeKalb congressman said Kaepernick is a ‘victim’ in TMZ Sports interview

Channel 2's Lauren Davis reports.

Days after Colin Kaepernick's workout in metro Atlanta, an Atlanta-based rapper and a DeKalb County congressman have advocated for the former quarterback's return to the NFL.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, spoke with the staff of TMZ Sports on Tuesday about his frustration with the NFL and its treatment of Kaepernick, and the politician suggests Congress may get involved if Kaepernick is not selected by a team soon. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback fractured his relationship with the league after his ubiquitous move to kneel on the field and publicly protest police brutality. He has not played for an NFL team in three years, but the workout last weekend with eight teams was orchestrated by the NFL to invite him back into the fold.

Johnson told TMZ Sports that Kaepernick is a “victim” in the debacle, and he warned that Congress may be able to take action against the league for banning the player over the last three years.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is going to bat for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Credit: Win McNamee

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Credit: Win McNamee

"Congress oversees the anti-trust exemption that we gave the NFL,” he told the entertainment site. “The NFL is doing quite well with that anti-trust exemption; maybe it's time for us to take a fresh look at it."

The antitrust exemption allows for certain companies and organizations, for example, Major League Baseball and the NFL, to have a monopoly on their market, allowing highly profitable television contracts. Some critics have suggested that the exemption has helped the league grow into an international business and sports juggernaut.

If revoked, the NFL would suffer a major financial hit, which Johnson suggests may be warranted.

"Maybe [the NFL feels] a little heat about their anti-trust exemption and the fact that the Judiciary Committee stands ready under the leadership of the chair of the anti-trust subcommittee David Cicilline to perhaps look at that anti-trust exemption,” Johnson said.

There has been no word on any further action beyond Johnson’s statements.