Amid protests and riots sweeping the nation following the tragic death of George Floyd, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued an apology heard ’round the sports world, and while he didn’t specifically name quarterback-turned-social justice activist Colin Kaepernick, Goodell would soon make quite clear that his message was partly directed to him, openly welcoming Kaepernick to work in some capacity with the league. New reports say that “multiple teams” now have a “legitimate interest” in giving Kaepernick yet another opportunity to make it back on the field.
“We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Goodell said in a video statement posted June 5. “We, the National Football League believe black lives matter.”
A few days later, Goodell addressed the question of Kaepernick returning to the league. “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 during a June 15 interview with ESPN. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.”
Even if Kaepernick doesn’t want to play again, added Goodell, the league “welcome[s] 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.”
According to the NFL Network’s Michael Silver, “at least a couple of teams” are now interested in Kaepernick. “I have talked to one head coach who is absolutely interested,” said Silver.
As reported by CBS Sports, Silver says that any holdups from teams are not about the former QB’s polarizing protest of the national anthem, but the need to see if he can really perform, which requires getting him in for some work outs, which has been made difficult due to the COVID-19 fears.
In November, Kaepernick famously skipped a special workout arranged by the NFL, his camp accusing the NFL of trying to force him to sign an overly restrictive waiver and not allowing him to bring his own camera crew. An insider report published by ESPN on what many believed to be the final nail on Kaepernick’s NFL coffin later indicated that the NFL appeared to be “legitimately” giving Kaepernick a shot to get back on the field with the skipped workout, but deep-seated “distrust” and “resentment” among Kaepernick’s camp ultimately derailed his potential return.
Kaepernick spent the entirety of his final season in the NFL protesting the national anthem. He began the protest during preseason while he was the second-string quarterback with San Francisco behind middling starter Blaine Gabbert. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told a reporter at the time. After a Gabbert injury got Kaepernick back in the action, he continued his pattern of struggling on the field. The 49ers would end the season with a 2-14 record, and after Kaepernick opted for free agency, he quickly found himself out of the league.
During that final season, Kaepernick was perpetually embroiled in controversy for a number of widely reported actions and statements, including praising brutal communist dictator Fidel Castro, sporting socks portraying police as pigs, and getting into public feuds with various political figures. Among his controversial statements, Kaepernick has claimed that the United States has conducted “American terrorist attacks against Black and Brown people for the expansion of American imperialism,” a comment that came after U.S. forces killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, a designated terrorist organization.
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