Even though no NFL team has gone near signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick after 2016’s season, the league’s commissioner is encouraging a franchise to take a chance on the 32-year-old. Roger Goodell, 61, told Mike Greenberg for ESPN‘s The Return of Sports special that, “Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision. But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.”
Even if Colin isn’t signed, Goodell says he has a place in the NFL to help guide the league through racial justice issues. “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,” the commissioner continued.
“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. But I hope we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change,” Goodell added.
Kaep hasn’t taken a snap in the league since the end of the 2016 season, after he parted ways with San Francisco 49ers and became a free agent. He famously began the “taking a knee” protests during the National Anthem to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice. But ultimately, many owners thought his actions were too much of a distraction to sign him. President Donald Trump even called out taking a knee as being disrespectful to the American flag and our troops, though Colin always made it clear he was protesting the killings of several unarmed black men by police officers.
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv
— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
Goodell finally admitted the league was on the wrong side of history when it came to how it reacted to Colin and other Black players taking a knee in peaceful protest. In a June 5 video amid Black Lives Matter rallies sweeping the nation following the horrifying police custody death of George Floyd, Goodell released a Twitter video and statement. He said the NFL should have listened to its players when they repeatedly said the kneeling protests had nothing to do with the American flag and everything to do with racial injustice.
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter,” Goodell said with a somber face. The one thing he didn’t say though was “We’re sorry” to Colin for the way he had been treated. Kaep ended up suing the NFL, claiming collusion among owners to blackball him from the league. He and the owners settled the case with a 2019 confidential agreement.