The American president said Wednesday he “absolutely” is in favour of giving the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback another chance in the NFL. The comment is in sharp contrast to his 2017 stance when he told a political rally that players like Kaepernick who kneel during the US anthem are “sons of bitches” and should be expelled from the league.
“If he deserves it, he should,” Trump told a Washington, DC television station when asked if Kaepernick should get another shot.
“If he has the playing ability. He started off great, and then he didn’t end up very great in terms of a player. He was terrific in his rookie year. I think he was very good in his second year. And then something happened. So his playing wasn’t up to snuff.
“The answer is absolutely I would. As far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot.”
Trump’s about-face comes as a wave of protests against police brutality and racism continued across the United States following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Just three weeks ago, Trump waded back into the anthem debate, tweeting that he believed players should stand during the song.
“There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!”
An eye on Kaepernick
Trump’s latest comments come two days after commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick.
“If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna 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.”
Kaepernick has not commented on Goodell’s statement.
Kaepernick filed a grievance with the NFL in 2017 alleging the owners conspired to keep him out of the league after he sparked a kneeling campaign to protest treatment of black Americans. In February 2019, he settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
That same month, multiple US media outlets reported Kaepernick was in talks with the Alliance of American Football about a job but wanted a guaranteed $20 million per season. At the time, quarterbacks were making an average of $250,000 a year.
Last November, Kaepernick balked at an NFL-arranged workout for all 32 teams and instead decided at the last minute to stage his own on an Atlanta-area high school field. The event was attended by scouts from eight teams but did not result in a job.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL in four years. In 12 games with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, he completed 59.2 percent of his passes, threw 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
A second-round draft pick in 2011, Kaepernick started 58 games over six seasons with the 49ers and passed for 12,271 yards with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
During the 2012 season, he led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII, a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Also on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said they are keeping an eye on Kaepernick.
“It would be crazy to not have him on your workout list,” Lynn said.
Lynn added Kaepernick “fits the style of quarterback for the system that we’re going to be running. I’m very confident and happy with the three quarterbacks that I have but you can never have too many people waiting on the runway.”