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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Colin Kaepernick

Ex-NFL spokesperson says league was ‘wrong’ in handling of Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has led to a renewed focus on police brutality against minorities, as well as Colin Kaepernick’s role in peacefully protesting it. That has spurred one prominent figure who was in the league at that time to reflect on his handling of that situation.

Joe Lockhart was the NFL’s spokesperson during the Kaepernick controversy in 2017, when the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality. In a column for CNN, Lockhart wrote that he felt at the time the NFL had done a “righteous job” opening a dialogue on race relations, even though Kaepernick was ultimately unable to find a new team. In light of the week’s events, however, Lockhart is reconsidering.

“I was wrong,” Lockhart wrote. “I think the teams were wrong for not signing him. Watching what’s going on in Minnesota, I understand how badly wrong we were.”

Lockhart recounted the league’s efforts to convince teams to sign Kaepernick, but owners feared the quarterback would be bad for business. However, the dialogue on social justice that arose made Lockhart feel at the time that progress was made. Now, though, he thinks not enough was done, and urged the Minnesota Vikings to sign Kaepernick as an act of symbolism.

“As a small, but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings,” Lockhart wrote. “Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love.”

Lockhart’s entire column is worth a read, whether you sympathize with him or not.

Current NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy, when asked for comment by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, simply stated that “Colin is a free agent. Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so.”

It’s good that Lockhart has realized this, but it shouldn’t have really taken an event like this to make it clear. After all, as Kaepernick’s mother pointed out, he was simply engaging in a peaceful protest. Don’t expect any NFL teams to take Lockhart’s advice right now, either.

Colin Kaepernick’s mother reminds people her son was ripped for peacefully protesting

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has once again become a topic of conversation in the wake of what happened with George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the former NFL quarterback’s mother sent a message of support for her son on Friday.

Teresa Kaepernick, Colin’s adoptive mother, called out Melania Trump on Twitter. The First Lady sent a tweet calling for the violent protests in downtown Minneapolis to come to an end, and Teresa reminded her that Donald Trump and others criticized Colin for peacefully protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.

Floyd, a black man, died on Monday while a police officer used his knee to pin the 46-year-old to the ground. Protests and riots have erupted in Minneapolis since the incident, with several buildings having been set on fire.

Colin Kaepernick also weighed in on Floyd’s death with a tweet on Thursday.

Kaepernick began a movement of kneeling during the national anthem several years ago as a sign of protest against police brutality. Donald Trump said at the time that NFL owners should “fire any son of a b—-” who kneels during the national anthem. This is not the first time Kaepernick’s mother has fired back at the president over the remarks.

Colin Kaepernick still has desire to play football

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick still wants to play football.

Of course, that comes with a caveat. Kaepernick wants to play football, but he wants to do so at the right price — at least according to XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, who revealed earlier this week that Kap had some pretty unrealistic salary demands for the start-up league.

But salary didn’t come up on Thursday when Kaepernick sat down with USA TODAY to discuss his upcoming memoir, which will be published trough his newly formed company, Kaepernick Publishing, in a partnership with Audible.

However, the word “desire” most certainly did.

“My desire to play football is still there,” Kaepernick said. “I still train five days a week. I’m ready to go, I’m ready for a phone call, tryout, workout at any point in time. I’m still waiting on the owners and their partners to stop running from this situation. So I hope I get a call this offseason. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

Kaepernick had an NFL-sponsored workout scheduled in November, but he ultimately chose to move the location and workout on his own after a disagreement with the league. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell later called it a “credible opportunity” that Kaepernick “chose not to take” and that the league had moved on.

Since that workout snafu, no NFL teams have expressed an interest in Kaepernick and he’s kept all alternative leagues/options at arms length.

Oliver Luck explains why Colin Kaepernick is not playing in XFL

Colin Kaepernick

While the XFL is partially meant as a showcase for players who want to get back into the NFL, there are some high-profile players who are not in the league at the moment.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of them, but according to XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, the two sides did talk. Luck told NPR’s Michel Martin that the quarterback’s salary demands did not fit with the league.

“We gave it some thought,” Luck said. “We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know. We’re a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent. And the, you know, salary requirements that some folks, you know, shared with us were in our case exorbitant, so we, you know, couldn’t go down that path.”

Luck clarified that the league did speak to Kaepernick’s representatives, but the financial demands were “out of our range.” The XFL commissioner was noncommittal when asked if the league would ever revisit the opportunity.

“I don’t know what kind of shape, you know, Colin is in,” Luck said. “And, you know, we haven’t followed that because obviously, again, we want the best players who are interested in playing in our league. That’s, you know, pretty much a requisite for our job.”

It’s important to note that the XFL mandates standing for the national anthem. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the anthem as a form of protest is regarded by many as a major reason that he hasn’t been able to get back into the NFL.

Kaepernick has never appeared all that interested in playing for any NFL alternatives. If the figures he asked of the now-defunct AAF are any indication, it’s understandable why talks with the XFL didn’t get anywhere.

Roger Goodell gives his take on Colin Kaepernick workout

Roger Goodell

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the league-sponsored workout for Colin Kaepernick that ultimately didn’t take place.

In a Wednesday press conference, Goodell said that he understood Kaepernick’s decision not to take part in the workout, adding that the purpose of the workout was to give Kaepernick a “credible opportunity” to get back into the league. He concluded by stating that the league has moved on.

Of course Goodell isn’t going to speak negatively about Kaepernick, especially since the league could still theoretically face legal exposure. The commissioner was reportedly heavily involved in the planning of the workout, and he would not have liked to see the PR fiasco that it turned into. It’s a diplomatic answer from Goodell, and probably the only one that he could have given — but it doesn’t sound like they’ll be granting Kaepernick any more help in the future.

Roger Goodell reportedly spent months planning Colin Kaepernick workout

Colin Kaepernick

One of the issues Colin Kaepernick’s camp had with the workout the NFL set up for the free agent quarterback is that they were informed on such short notice, and it will likely irritate Kaepernick and his people more to hear how long the league spent planning the event.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spent months working through details of a potential workout for Kaepernick and discussing the idea with some team owners, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Initial discussions about Kaepernick began before the start of the regular season, and the idea to host a workout for Kaepernick was reportedly Goodell’s idea.

Goodell is said to have proposed the idea to host a workout for Kaepernick not long after the NFL announced a partnership with Jay-Z and his company, Roc Nation. Jay-Z reportedly pushed the NFL to hold the workout, but a source insisted to La Canfora that it was Goodell who wanted to “do the right thing.”

“He really did a lot of this own his own, keeping everything very quiet,” the source said. “He probably spoke to 10 owners, at least … He really wanted to do the right there here, and I understand if some people will say that something should have happened sooner and it took too long, but you have to allow that there can be a course correction and Roger really did invest himself in this process.”

Kaepernick would likely argue that Goodell should have involved him and his people in the planning process if their intentions were pure, but Goodell apparently wanted to wait to be sure he had support from at least 20 teams. We laid out previously how we believe the NFL was trying to protect itself against a second lawsuit from Kaepernick after his representatives issued a press release in October.

Of course, the information all depends on the sources. NFL sources are motivated to make it seem as though the Kaepernick workout was not a publicity stunt, while many believe Kaepernick doesn’t truly want to play football again and would rather further the narrative that he has been blacklisted by the league.

Kaepernick ended up holding his own private workout due to supposed issues over media access and a waiver the NFL asked him to sign. Around a handful of teams attended, but it does not sound like he is any close to being signed than he was before the showcase.

Colin Kaepernick releases promo video from workout: ‘We stay ready’

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick does not appear to have sparked much interest from NFL teams with the workout he held in Atlanta earlier this month, but the free agent quarterback wants to continue sending the message that he is ready to play.

On Monday, Kaepernick shared a promo video on Twitter that featured some highlights from his workout. He thanked those who helped him put the event together and ended the tweet with “we stay ready.”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that no teams have expressed interest in Kaepernick or reached out to him since the workout. Kaepernick was expected to work out in front of roughly 25 NFL teams at the event the league set up for him in Atlanta, but he changed the location at the last second due to issues over media access and a waiver the NFL asked him to sign. Only a handful of teams chose to drive to the new location, which was located about 60 miles from the Falcons’ facility.

There are apparently talent evaluators out there who believe Kaepernick is good enough to be on an NFL roster, but the issue is likely that teams still don’t feel he could provide enough on the field to justify all the media attention and potential distractions he attracts. Kaepernick is now 32 and has been out of football for nearly three full seasons, and teams have opted against signing him even with a ton of injuries at the position this year.