Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick priced himself out of a job with the XFL, according to Commissioner Oliver Luck.
The eight-team league held its first slate of games over the weekend, but without Kaepernick, who last year indicated he wanted to return to the NFL.
The XFL operates under a different player management model than the NFL, centrally hiring all of the teams’ players prior to the first draft.
“Great football player,” he said. “I — you know, I’m not going to talk about any particular player outside of the group of guys that we have because we think — again, we’ve got the best 500 or so players under contract who aren’t in the National Football League or in other professional leagues,” he said.
Kaepernick was considered, Luck said.
“We gave it some thought,” he said. “We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know. We’re a startup league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent. And the salary requirements that some folks shared with us were in our case exorbitant, so we couldn’t go down that path.”
When asked again if it all boiled down to money, Luck was emphatic.
“I’m saying that we spoke with his representative, and the salary requirements that were broached in that conversation were exorbitant and certainly out of our range,” he said.
Kaepernick’s last NFL contract was a six-year, $126 million extension, according to CBS Sports — averaging $21 million per year.
Last year, Sporting News, citing sources it did not name, reported that Kaepernick had sought nearly that much — $20 million per year — to play in the XFL. According to The Associated Press, he had demanded the same amount to play in the other upstart spring league, the Alliance of American Football, which folded last April in the middle of its first season.
The average XFL player is expected to make $55,000 this season, according to Fox News.
Asked whether the league would be interested in Kaepernick if his salary demands were reasonable, Luck said he didn’t know.
He said the league’s last contact with the quarterback was “well over a year ago, so I don’t know what kind of shape Colin is in. And we haven’t followed that because obviously, again, we want the best players who are interested in playing in our league. That’s pretty much a requisite for our job.”
In the interview, Luck noted that the league requires players to stand for the national anthem.
“Players have numerous opportunities to express themselves with all the platforms that exist today,” he said. “So standing for the national anthem, we believe, is a part of their responsibility as players in our league. But we think it’s important to have that requirement for our players.”
Some on Twitter said Kaepernick has no interest in playing for XFL.
.@MarcellusWiley isn’t disappointed that Colin Kaepernick isn’t playing in the XFL
“He’s just a social justice shoe salesman right now.” pic.twitter.com/wUtdYYftvD
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) February 7, 2020
@Kaepernick doesn’t get it. He has to prove his worth. Get in the league show everyone you can play then renegotiate for more money. At this point hes a liability no one trusts him. He might turn around and sue the xfl,he doesn’t want to play,all he wants is to play games
— mark (@MarkMisixoo8) February 10, 2020
He doesn’t want to play, he just wants to complain about not playing.
— Nick Bell (@nickrandomstuff) February 11, 2020
This weird cat doesn’t want to play football period.
— K. Floros (@kfloros82) February 11, 2020
In December, Luck told the Tampa Bay Times that Kaepernick and the XFL were not a match. At the time, Kaepernick had recently staged a workout in hopes of returning to the NFL.
“I think his salary demands are way out of our ballpark. He was never really a viable option,” Luck said.
XFL owner/CEO Vince McMahon said back in January 2018 that limiting protests and requiring athletes to stand for the anthem made sense for the new league.
“It’s a time-honored tradition to stand and appreciate the national anthem with any sport. Here in America — for that matter, in any country…so I think it’d be appropriate to do that,” he told The Wrap.
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