As the saying goes, sooner or later, everything old is new again. Such is the case with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 created a firestorm by kneeling in protest during the national anthem prior to a preseason game in San Diego against the Chargers.
Two months after the 2016 season ended, Kaepernick learned that the 49ers planned to cut him, and instead opted out of his contract. He has not taken a snap in the league, since.
Now, as the unrest continues in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, Kaepernick might finally be welcomed back into the league — that is, if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has anything to say about it.
Goodell, who in 2016 said he supported the right of NFL players to “seek change,” but that he “doesn’t necessarily agree with what (Kaepernick) is doing,” now appears to have had a change in heart.
In a video last week, Goodell apologized for the league’s response to Kaepernick and other protesters, ticking through a litany of comments we’ve seen from everyone from politicians on Capitol Hill to CEOs of many of America’s largest corporations.
It has been a difficult time for our country. In particular, black people in our country.
First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all the families who have endured police brutality.
We the National Football league condemn racism and the systematic [sic] oppression of black people.
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.
We the National Football League believe black lives matter.
Goodell added: “I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.”
And the prospects of Kaepernick returning to the NFL?
During a Monday conversation with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, Goodell not only encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick, he added that he welcomes the former quarterback’s voice on discussions of social issues, to the point of wanting Kaepernick to “guide us, help us make better decisions about the things that need to be done …”
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. But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.
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.
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.
Goodell suggested Floyd’s death and the subsequent unrest were behind his encouragement of teams to welcome Kaepernick back.
What they were talking about and what they were protesting and what they were trying to bring attention to was playing out right in front of us — and tragically. And so all of us saw that, and it was difficult for all of us. And so that was an important point for all of us.
Goodell said he “hope(s) we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change.”
As for Kaepernick, while he remains a polarizing figure, no one would be happier to see the quarterback back in the NFL than Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View.
As we reported last week, Hostin not only wants Kaepernick back in the league ASAP, she thinks he also deserves an apology, back pay, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
Speaking of Nobel Peace Prizes, I’d draw a snarky comparison to Barack Obama, but that would be poor form, wouldn’t it?