If Colin Kaepernick wants to play in the NFL, he should be able to, provided he has the ability to do it. That’s not the message from an ESPN host, that’s what the president of the United States is saying.
Asked Wednesday by Sinclair News reporter Scott Thuman whether he would support Kaepernick getting another shot in the league if a team wants him, Trump responded, “If he deserves it, he should. If he has the playing ability.”
The president went on to note that Kaepernick’s “playing wasn’t up to snuff” when he was last in the league.
“The answer is absolutely I would, as far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot but obviously he has to be able to play well,” he said. “If he can’t play well, I think that would be very unfair.”
— Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) June 17, 2020
The question doesn’t come apropos of nothing, obviously. Earlier in the month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for not listening to players’ concerns on racism and said the league would allow peaceful protests on the field — including kneeling during the national anthem.
“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.
“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. 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.”
In terms of the on-field protests by NFL players, Trump still isn’t a fan, as you can see by this tweet:
Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
Trump also wrote, in a Twitter post where he disagreed with top government epidemiologist Anthony Fauci over Fauci’s belief the NFL might not be able to come back safely this year, that he wouldn’t be watching if there were a renewed spate of anthem protests:
Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2020
The fact is, the NFL is set for its most tumultuous year since 2017. That’s the year where the president said, at an Alabama campaign rally, that he wouldn’t mind if owners yanked anthem protesters off of the field, albeit not quite in that language. In the wake of those comments, we saw a whole raft of players take the knee for the national anthem. Of course, that was mostly empty, since the timing proved they were protesting nothing but Trump.
The ensuing cultural scrum definitely wasn’t a knockout win for the anthem-kneeling battalion and, if the president chooses to make it an issue in the fall, could again rally his political base. There’s that, of course.
However, for everything he’s said about kneeling for the national anthem, Trump has never made Kaepernick a particular example of his ire.
Whether or not the president’s take on players who kneel for the national anthem — or the league’s years-long attempt to appeal to both sides while making neither happy — has had anything to do with Kaepernick’s job status is another question entirely.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback began kneeling in the 2016 season, which is why many feel it’s not a coincidence that’s the last season he played in the league. San Francisco also went 2-14 during that season, though, and the president’s summation of his playing career’s trajectory isn’t a poor one.
A scouting report from CBS Sports notes that while Kaepernick’s physical abilities have never been an issue, his polish and fundamentals were.
(That said, the report states that the style of the league has changed and Kaepernick-style quarterbacks are more in demand than they were in 2016 — assuming, of course, Kaepernick still has those skills. The CBS summary says Kaepernick has the skill set for a “high-end backup” quarterback.)
The report isn’t a bad beginning to an alternative explanation to the leftist narrative that Kaepernick has been out of the league since 2016 solely because of his politics.
But there are other factors, too.
Kaepernick’s reported salary demands and desire to have a shot at the starting job have been called “false narratives” by some in the sports media, but consider the fact that he had reportedly demanded a $20 million annual salary from the now-defunct second-tier spring league Alliance of American Football, where players were earning $250,000 salaries with bonuses possible. He reportedly asked the same from the now-defunct XFL, as well.
Then there was the ugly incident where, during Kaepernick’s talks with the Baltimore Ravens, Kaepernick’s long-time girlfriend posted a meme comparing Ravens legend Ray Lewis’ relationship to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to the relationship between Samuel Jackson’s house slave and Leonardo DiCaprio’s cruel plantation owner in the Quentin Tarantino film “Django Unchained”:
— NESSA (@nessnitty) August 3, 2017
Kaepernick didn’t get the gig, for whatever reason.
A workout before NFL scouts last season didn’t yield any interest, either.
That said, if a team wants to sign Kaepernick, they certainly should, even if I disagree with his decision to kneel for the national anthem. He’s been out of the league for three years, but he’s still got the physical skills and is available for the right money, go for it. One assumes that he won’t be as much of a distraction in 2020, either, given that everything seems like a distraction in 2020. In a year that feels like the crawl at the bottom of the CNN screen experiencing a panic attack, he’ll fit right in.
That seems to be the president’s opinion on the matter, too — and it’s diametrically opposed to the leftist narrative that he and other conservatives have kept the quarterback out of the league for so long.
There’s no reason to cancel Kaepernick; that’s not how conservatives should roll. We shouldn’t be in the business of ruining the careers of people we don’t disagree with.
It’s likely to leave liberal heads spinning, since it’s not exactly their line, but it’s a lesson liberals need to learn.
For instance, look at the kind of pressure being put on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees after his statement that he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country.” He was made to backpedal more quickly than I’ve ever seen him do in the pocket.
You don’t have to approve of Kaepernick or even watch — the president says he won’t if there’s mass kneeling for the national anthem, after all. But Kaepernick can certainly get a job quarterbacking in the league — if he has the ability.
Just a reminder though — if he does, we could very easily discover why he was out of the NFL for so long.
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