On the same day that the Los Angeles Chargers head coach, Anthony Lynn, said teams would be “crazy” not to look at Colin Kaepernick in the run-up to the new NFL season, Donald Trump says he would support the quarterback returning to the league.
During an interview with Washington TV station WJLA, the president was asked if Kaepernick should get another chance in the league. “If he deserves it, he should,” Trump said. “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. But obviously he has to be able to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair.”
“Absolutely I would,” support @Kaepernick7 getting a 2nd shot in the @NFL — @POTUS in my interview today on racism, policing, statues & yes–sports. #ColinKaepernickpic.twitter.com/0B83cNbesW — Scott Thuman (@ScottThuman) June 17, 2020
The 32-year-old Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, when he began kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against social injustice in the United States. He was then frozen out of the league, but as anti-racism protests have swept the US following the death of George Floyd, there is a feeling teams may be more open to signing Kaepernick, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013.
Trump’s comments are a far cry from those he made in 2017, when he called players who knelt during the national anthem “sons of bitches”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lynn said Kaepernick is an interesting prospect for NFL teams as the new season approaches.
“I haven’t spoken with Colin, not sure where he’s at as far in his career, what he wants to do, but Colin definitely fits the style of quarterback for the system that we’re going to be running,” Lynn told ESPN on Wednesday. “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.”
Earlier this month, the NFL admitted it had been wrong not to listen to players like Kaepernick who have peacefully protested against social injustice. This week, the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he would encourage teams to sign Kaepernick. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says he has heard from at least one team interested in signing Kaepernick.
While it is unlikely Kaepernick would secure a job as a starter, he is still in his prime years as a player and would be a strong candidate for a back-up role. Kaepernick has continued to stay in shape during his exile from the NFL, and says he still practices five times a week.
The 2020 NFL season is scheduled to start in September, with training camps resuming in July.