NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday he hopes to see a team sign national anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick to a contract.
Amid civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, whose neck was knelt on for nearly nine minutes by a Minneapolis police officer during an arrest last month, a number of NFL players, as well as at least one coach, have said they will not stand for the country’s national anthem.
Goodell told ESPN’s Mike Greenberg he hopes to see a return of the former player who sparked the national anthem protests by refusing to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016.
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s going to take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said.
“But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that,” he said.
But in the event Kaepernick does not sign with a team, Goodell said he hopes the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback works with the league in some capacity.
“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities,” Goodell told ESPN.
“We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time,” the NFL commissioner said.
“But I hope we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change.”
Kaepernick, now 32, has not played in an NFL game since the 2016-17 season.
He started protesting during the national anthem that preseason, telling NFL Media: “”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
The player opted out of his contract the following offseason and reportedly turned down a number of opportunities to play again.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway shut down any talk of the quarterback joining the team in 2018, reveling that Kaepernick was offered a contract in 2016.
“Colin had his chance to be here,” Elway told reporters, according to Business Insider. “We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it.”
That was mere months after the quarterback made a spectacle out of an NFL-sponsored workout in November, which set out to find the activist a new home in the league.
But the location and format of the NFL workout, at the Atlanta Falcons’ practice facility, did not meet Kaepernick’s demands, and he instead threw at a local high school, the AP reported.
No teams apparently showed any interest.
Following the NFL ratings slump beginning in 2017, which many attributed to Kaepernick’s anthem protest spreading around the league, it is difficult to imagine why any team would be interested in signing him now.
It’s also valid to ask if Kaepernick himself even has a desire to play, now that he has reportedly turned down so many opportunities to compete on the field.
In a March 2017 obituary of the quarterback’s playing career, Cover32 writer Winston Chung questioned Kaepernick’s football abilities.
“At the end of the day, if Colin Kaepernick displayed outstanding football acumen over the past two seasons, he likely would never had protested and we would not be having a conversation about why no one wants to sign him,” Chung wrote.
“The beauty of sports is the honesty of the playing field – one can prove their worth there but it also can quickly reveal flaws – and Colin Kaepernick has still not proven he can sit in the pocket, read a defense quickly and swiftly deliver the ball with accuracy to a down-field receiver,” the columnist added in his takedown.
With Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield joining those vowing to refuse to stand for their country’s anthem during the upcoming season, what does any team have to gain by signing Kapernick at this point?
Sure, he shows the proper woke contempt for the country, and he started a movement which has now been given legitimacy by the league.
But other players who are also now woke come with superior playing abilities, so it’s hard to envision there is a team out there willing to sign an anti-police activist who hasn’t thrown an NFL pass in almost four years.
Then again, the country and the league are apparently reaching peak wokeness, so who knows what the future might hold for Kaepernick.
But, will anyone be watching?
And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching! https://t.co/aGfBaK7RNA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2020
Many football fans might be joining him.
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