Days after acknowledging that the NFL may have mishandled its response to Colin Kaepernick and other players kneeling during the national anthem, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he is all for the idea of teams signing the free-agent quarterback to a contract.
As quoted by Bleacher Report, Goodell appeared on ESPN’s The Return of Sports special on Monday, where he spoke to host Mike Greenberg about the issue of Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since the end of the 2016 regular season. The commissioner said that any decision to sign the quarterback still lies in the hands of the league’s teams, though he said he will “support” and “encourage” any organization that may show interest in signing the quarterback to a contract.
Should Kaepernick remain unsigned as a player, Goodell suggested the 32-year-old could also help the NFL in other ways as it deals with the hot-button issues of police brutality and systemic racism that have emerged since the death of George Floyd.
“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.”
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’s remarks to Greenberg came slightly more than a week after he released a video where he addressed the Black Lives Matter movement and admitted the NFL was wrong for “not listening” to its players earlier. In that clip, he did not mention Kaepernick or any other national anthem kneelers by name, but he did say that he is encouraging players to “speak out” and peacefully protest, adding that the league would not exist without the contributions of its black players.
It still remains unclear whether Kaepernick will draw more serious interest from NFL teams in the months leading up to the 2020 season. However, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently revealed that he had spoken to an unnamed team official who made inquiries about the quarterback. Kaepernick, who played his entire career for the San Francisco 49ers before opting out of his contract early in 2017, had worked out with the Seahawks that same year but was not signed by the team.