Free-agent (for more than two years) quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to be available. Many think he continues to be blackballed by a group of owners who are, among other things, fearful of the reaction President Trump.
On Friday morning, during a lengthy open-air, high-temperature Q&A with reporters, President Trump gave his blessing to an NFL team employing Kaepernick. With a caveat.
“Only if he’s good enough,” President Trump said. “If he’s good enough. . . . And I think if he was good enough, I know the owners, I know Bob Kraft, I know so many of the owners. If he’s good enough, they’d sign him. So if he’s good enough — I know these people — they would sign him in a heartbeat. They will do anything they can to win games.
“So I’d like to see it. Frankly, I’d love to see Kaepernick come in, if he’s good enough. But I don’t want to see him come in because somebody thinks it’s a good P.R. move. If he’s good enough, he will be in.”
That explanation sounds a lot like what Commissioner Roger Goodell said about Kaepernick two years ago, before the Ravens decided to refrain from signing Kaepernick not because he wasn’t good enough, but because he was deemed to be bad for business. Indeed, Goodell shifted — in a very subtle but significant way — his talking points regarding Kaepernick once the question of his employment went from being a matter of winning games to being an issue of making (or losing) money. (Earlier this year, while Kaepernick’s collusion grievance was still pending, Goodell retreated to the “teams want to win” mantra, possibly because he was pushed to adopt one position or the other during his deposition testimony in Kaepernick’s case.)
The “good enough” argument went out the window a long time ago, and the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t played for more than two-and-a-half years makes it easier for NFL teams to continue to ignore him based on perceived lack of merit. Fear of the reaction not only by Trump but also by Trump supporters continues to fuel the business reasons for shunning Kaepernick, along with both a desire to teach a lesson to players who may be inclined to spark movements that are averse to the league’s interests and a willingness to sue the league, ultimately finagling a payment that fell somewhere between $1 million and $10 million in order to settle the claim.
At this point, Kaepernick’s name doesn’t even come up when a team needs a quarterback. Ten years to the month after the Eagles gave a second chance to admitted dogfighter Mike Vick, Philadelphia needs a capable backup to Carson Wentz. And Kaepernick’s phone likely will continue to not ring.
It’s likely never going to ring, and the NFL is probably only one season away from it never being an issue again.