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Roger Goodell on Kaepernick: NFL Teams Don't Ask Me for Advice on Football Hires

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2020

FILE - In this May 24, 2016, file photo, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell answers reporter's questions at an NFL owner's meeting in Charlotte N.C.  Goodell disagrees with Colin Kaepernick's choice to kneel during the national anthem, but recognizes the quarterback's right to protest. Asked by The Associated Press about Kaepernick's decision not to stand before games when the national anthem is played, Goodell says:
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Colin Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He also threw for 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 2016.

Yet he has remained unsigned ever since.

When pressed for an opinion about that reality, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell left it up to individual teams to sign the signal-caller who made so many headlines for his decision to protest police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem.

Peter King interviewed Goodell for his "Football Morning in America" column and asked the commissioner if he is "dispirited" that Kaepernick is still unsigned.

"Those are club decisions," he said. "I've encouraged teams to evaluate that and sign him if they feel that's the case. I'm happy if Kap gets an opportunity but that's, you know ... Teams don't usually ask me for advice on football hires."

King also asked Goodell if he thinks the fact that Kaepernick is not signed undercuts the league's work on important social issues.

"No," he said. "How could it, when our players are out and for the last several years, players and teams are making important changes in their community with important programs?"

This comes after the commissioner discussed the subject of Kapernick remaining unsigned during a conversation with Mike Greenberg for ESPN's "The Return of Sports" special in June.

"Well, listen, 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."

During that discussion with Greenberg, Goodell also suggested the former 49er could help the NFL even if he isn't playing:

"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."

The commissioner also admitted the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier" while encouraging players to "speak out and peacefully protest" in a response to a video from stars such as Michael Thomas, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley asking for the NFL to respond to the police killing of George Floyd:

Michael Thomas @Cantguardmike

“A message on behalf of the nfl” https://t.co/iilDpnZfyV

NFL @NFL

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 https://t.co/ENWQP8A0sv

As for Kaepernick, he is still just 32 years old.

It is difficult to argue he is not one of the best 32 options at quarterback for teams when expanding to backup roles as well given his resume.

What's more, anyone who signed him would make a statement amid the worldwide protests fighting for social justice and highlighting systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of the police killings of Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

For his part, Goodell said such a decision is completely up to the teams.

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