Former NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart: Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick

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Former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart served as the NFL’s primary spokesperson during the anthem controversy in 2017. He has become the first current or former league executive to make a clear, candid statement about the league’s approach to free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Lockhart, in a column posted at CNN.com, argues that the Vikings should sign Kaepernick.

In the column, Lockhart summarizes the anthem controversy and Kaepernick’s role in launching the protests as a way to bring awareness to the mistreatment of African-Americans and people of color by law-enforcement authorities. Although not every single factual assertion is accurate (e.g., Kaepernick did not have “several” workouts with NFL teams . . . in reality, he has had no workouts with any teams but just a single visit to the Seahawks), Lockhart peels back the curtain on the things that transpired as the league and its franchises tried to grapple with the issues arising from the protests and Kaepernick’s lingering unemployment.

“Kaepernick was not blocked because the league wanted to punish him for setting off the protests,” Lockhart asserts. And he’s right, as it relates to the league office. But the teams ignored the league’s “prodding and pushing” to get Kaepernick a job — due directly to fears over fan reaction to hiring someone who set off the protests.

“Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business,” Lockhart writes. “An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20% of their season ticket holders if they did.”

So while the refusal to do business with Kaepernick may not have been go-to-bed-without-supper-style discipline because of his protests, he received adverse treatment (i.e., the cold shoulder) from 32 NFL teams because of his protests.

Lockhart explains that he justified the unemployment of Kaepernick at the time by focusing on the “millions” being spent by the league “to help address the problem of racial division in the country.” Lockhart admits in his column that he was wrong.

“I know now it was not enough just to spend money to make progress on the issue of racial disparities,” Lockhart writes. “That is crucial, but so are symbols that reflect that attempt at progress — and also the failure to reach it. And Colin Kaepernick became the symbol of black men being treated differently than white men in America.”

The column builds to Lockhart arguing that, given the presence of the Vikings in the epicenter of the current controversy, the Vikings should sign Kaepernick.

He’d definitely fit the offense; the Broncos flirted with trading for Kaepernick in 2016, when Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was Denver’s head coach. Still, it’s unlikely that Kaepernick would fit the budget. If offered a job as a backup to Kirk Cousins, one of the highest paid players in the league, Kaepernick would have to take far less than the $12 million that he made in his final season with the 49ers, or the $20 million that he reportedly wanted from the AAF or the XFL. Given the team’s salary-cap situation, the Vikings possibly would be limited to offering Kaepernick a deal for the veteran minimum.

Lockhart likely hasn’t analyzed the situation from a football perspective, however. He’s simply connecting two large dots between Minneapolis and the football team that plays there.

And so the better argument is that someone (not necessarily the Vikings) should offer Kaepernick a contract for 2020. Even then, the current inability to give him a physical or an in-person workout due to the pandemic complicates any effort to move quickly.

It doesn’t stop any team from making a statement immediately that Kaepernick is invited to visit, to submit to a physical to work out, and possibly to enter into contract negotiations as soon as facilities open. Given the broader societal circumstances and the fact that the issues for which Kaepernick protested have reached an obvious tipping point, the potential damage to a team’s bottom line should be far less now than it would have been in 2017.

Especially if, due to the pandemic, fans won’t be attending games, anyway.

107 responses to “Former NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart: Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick

  1. Yeah, a great goodwill gesture. Fully endorse this idea. Just wish my Packres had signed Kap instead of drafting Love. That would’ve gone over real well in Wisco.

  2. What does that solve? It’s just a token move for a guy that hasn’t played and wouldn’t help the team.

  3. After all the chaos and the rants Colin Kaepernick has caused you are saying the Minnesota Vikings should sign him? As a Seahawks fan I would feel bad for the Vikings if this actually happened.

  4. Hence the word “former”.

    This jack wagon just suggested that since kneeling didn’t work maybe revolution is the way to go.

    What a role model.

  5. Yeah, that’s not pandering at all. No one would see through that. Wonder how much Kap would charge to be a token?

  6. I’m not a Kap fan at all, but maybe the mayor should hire him for some sort of commission to reform the policies of Minneapolis that led to this.

  7. Am I incorrect in thinking Kap would have already been employed if he was willing to accept vet min for a backup role? Are we not martyring a guy simply because no one will give him $12+ million?

  8. Off the field stuff aside, this guy completely ignores that Kaepernick will be 33 years old before next season and hasn’t played in three years. Nor is he very good. A backup QB isn’t much more than another pair of eyes and Kaepernick was never known for his brains, reading defenses and going through progressions. Some people will be still trying to convince us Kaepernick deserves to be gift-wrapped a job when he’s in his 60s.

  9. Would there be a stadium for him to play in?

    I mean, if that glass horror show hasn’t been completely stripped clean of anything valuable (or just burned down entirely) by the fine citizens of Minneapolis, nobody is going to want to set foot in there since police protection will be basically nil.

  10. I just don’t understand why Kaep didn’t and won’t take a reasonable offer to be a backup. Now Cam Newton going thru same process.

  11. The Vikings did absolutely nothing wrong and are not at the center of this giant mess in any way shape or form.

  12. The cornerbacks in Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago definitely think this is a great idea.

  13. No they shouldn’t because 1) he’s overrated as a player and 2) if he goes there and Cousins has one bad game you’ll hear the moron fans calling for Kaepernick

  14. Personally,, I think we should stop using a multi-millionaire celebrity as the filter for processing a very serious and deep issue in the country.

    I support the protesting he did, but it’s time to move on. We need action in the present, not a tug of war over a years-old celebrity media moment.

    I know a lot of people are still attached to him, so I’m only one vote. But it feels a little juvenile at this point.

  15. Isnt it ironic that with all the athletes and all the celebrities speaking out against the social, racial injustice that took place in Minnesota are lauded yet when Kaep did more or less the same thing by kneeling, he was crucified. BTW. I am not a Kaep lover.

  16. Genius. Do it now……see he can speak to people now…….and ask them to please stop burning down areas of our city that can least afford it and least deserve it. He could stop it now if the Vikings would do it now. I’m on-board that train.

  17. Sorry…but no.

    And I wholeheartedly supported Kaep’s protest.

    But no…this is a perfect example of how stupid ruins the good.

  18. Kaepernick is a “victim”. He’s done nothing to help discrimination except take a knee for 1 minute and 27 seconds.

    Nobody deserves to die for a fake $20 bill. But Kaepernick is not the man that is going to fix this.

  19. The Vikings aren’t at the center of what’s going on, though. Right? Or is Cousins looting again?

  20. @deadinbed

    No, not more or less the same thing.

    1. To many of us, the anthem is sacred, and you do not hijack the anthem for your own political purposes (regardless of how you feel about whether or not it’s “disrespectful” to kneel).

    2. Athletes are speaking out on their own time and platform right now. Kaepernick hijacked gameday and made it about him and his causes. If these other athletes did this during gameday, that would be a whole different story. Don’t care if it’s Kaepernick or Aaron Rodgers. No fan wants to be lectured to during their “entertainment”.

  21. Wrong, that sends a bad message. Lets not sign an inaccurate, old, has been QB who brings a ton of baggage. What will that prove, that he still can’t play in the NFL. If the Vikings want to hire a community rep, maybe not a bad idea. However, CK doesn’t want to work nor would he ever accept lo pay to do so. Really, his only option is Nike at this point. Phil and Colin are made for each other.

  22. “National Guard mobilizes across U.S. as protests and riots erupt”
    —-
    Reminiscent of the Boston tea party. Good people rise up and demand to be heard.

  23. “Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business,” Lockhart writes. “An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20% of their season ticket holders if they did.”

    Case closed. This is entertainment. If he figures to bring more harm than good, it’s bad for business.

    Plenty of other “kneelers” have jobs. Probably because, like a Kenny Stills, they are good at their jobs and come across as far more sincere and thoughtful about why they do it. I don’t have to agree with it but I can understand it. Kap, is not a good QB and is a certifiable moron.

  24. cheeseisfattening says:
    May 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm
    “National Guard mobilizes across U.S. as protests and riots erupt”
    —-
    Reminiscent of the Boston tea party. Good people rise up and demand to be heard.
    —————————
    False equivalence. The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to oppression from another country. The patriots also didn’t start destroying their OWN cities either.

  25. iliketurtles says:
    May 30, 2020 at 1:55 pm
    The Vikings did absolutely nothing wrong and are not at the center of this giant mess in any way shape or form.
    ~~~~~~~~~
    You’re 100% correct.
    Why should the Vikings organization assume any responsibility for this mess?
    Giving up financial capitol and a valuable roster spot for some pointless overture in this situation is just dumb.
    The blame falls directly on the Minneapolis Police Dept. in overseeing their racist staff, and the Viking fan base that has wreaked destruction, committed arson and looted their way from any valid point and protest they once had. Very sad for everyone involved.

  26. Thought it’s been obvious for some time Kap has no interest in playing football.

    Said it before, why doesn’t he run for political office? He wouldn’t be the first former NFLer to make that move, and far more likely to make a difference than kneeling during the anthem.

  27. When I see the number of thumbs up and down on this website against Kaepernick for PEACEFULLY PROTESTING, then I know what the REAL problem in America is. Same as it;’s been since 1492.

  28. He wants starter money still. And say what you will about Cousins, he doesn’t miss a game. He has been very durable his entire career. The Bears should sign him, when Foles gets hurt in week 4 they will have to turn to that back up QB they traded up to draft 2nd overall a few years back.

  29. So you’re saying hire him like that character from South Park?

  30. Ok so many claim Kap shouldve taken the minimum. Well the man did lead his team to a superbowl, last i checked Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins, have done nothing to warrant their big contracts. Hell even chase daniel is making 8 a year and taysom hill who has a total of 7 completed passes makes 8

  31. Based on Lockhart’s idiotic logic, the Ravens and Rams should sign Kaepernick since Freddy Gray was killed by the Baltimore cops, and the riots in Ferguson, MO after hands up don’t shoot.

    There is a reason this a former PR guy for the NFL and a former PR guy for President Clinton.
    A PR guy speaks/lies for someone else, and can’t express their own logic.

    What a horrible idea.

  32. I really worry about MN tourism after this. I hope things return to normal soon there.

  33. Player value = Talent – Cost – Grief. It’s always these three, never one on its own. If the last two are bigger than the first the player’s value falls too low – or goes negative – he’s unsignable.

    Colin Kaepernick. Josh McCown. Tim Tebow. Patrick Mahomes. It’s all the same equation, just different numbers. I don’t understand why people don’t want to accept that.

  34. Kaep looked like he was throwing with his off hand it was so brutal to watch. Seattle laughed at him and knew he could only pay attention to his first read before running so they just jumped the routes and forced him to run around. But lets not actually judge a guy on his talent. Cam Newton is 3 times better than Colin and he is without a job. Being a distraction is a real thing.

  35. Its kind of silly, the dude obviously doesn’t want to play. If he did he would be trying to take every opportunity to work out and not demand top dollar when nobody trusts his game anymore.

  36. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure giving one person a high profile job won’t fix an absurdly high rate of kids born to single parents and the gang/drug problems that ensue.

    Family comes first. That’s irreplaceable. Or you can riot. That’s always productive.

  37. Signing Kap would be a good PR move. Next, they can Ray Charles as their wide receiver. Then Stephen Hawking as their fulllback. Then perhaps Pippi Longstocking as their edge rusher.

  38. nunya says:
    May 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm
    cheeseisfattening says:
    May 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm
    “National Guard mobilizes across U.S. as protests and riots erupt”
    —-
    Reminiscent of the Boston tea party. Good people rise up and demand to be heard.
    —————————
    False equivalence. The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to oppression from another country. The patriots also didn’t start destroying their OWN cities either.
    ___________

    While your right about it being a false coincidence, Boston, Mass was considered a part of the British Empire. It is in comparison to how Puerto Rico and the US are currently related. And yes, violent protests were common in pre-Revolutionary War Colonial Britain.

  39. Has anyone taken a serious look at the NFL’s policy on the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick? I’m not sure any learned journalists picked up on it or really examined it.

    The NFL claims to want diversity among its employees and even has several programs promoting inclusion. The Rooney Rule is the most noted program. At the same time the NFL pats itself on the back for ‘trying’ to foster a diverse workplace, they ban a qualified employee, who happens to fit the profile of those they say they want to include.

    Kaepernick should never have been barred, banned or blacklisted. Daily life and history of America has proven him right and those who disagree, wrong.

  40. “While your right about it being a false coincidence, Boston, Mass was considered a part of the British Empire. It is in comparison to how Puerto Rico and the US are currently related. And yes, violent protests were common in pre-Revolutionary War Colonial Britain.”

    So what is your point?

  41. bastageman says:
    May 30, 2020 at 3:54 pm
    In all honesty: Colin Kaepernick > Sean Mannion
    ———-
    Maybe. A big maybe.
    But at what price?
    Dollar for dollar, Mannion is the better choice.

  42. Peacefully protesting? Guess we missed his comments of being all for the violence few days ago….. he has no interest in playing, craves attention. Can we move on from him please…

  43. psubeerman21 says:
    May 30, 2020 at 5:10 pm
    “While your right about it being a false coincidence, Boston, Mass was considered a part of the British Empire. It is in comparison to how Puerto Rico and the US are currently related. And yes, violent protests were common in pre-Revolutionary War Colonial Britain.”

    So what is your point?
    _________

    First, I meant to quote false equivalence not coincidence. Not sure how I missed that typo.

    Second, my point was to point of a glaring falsehood in the middle of this comment section that regardless of point of view, needed to be addressed.

    Third, I haven’t actually posted my opinion of the article. I think three years out of the league might be pushing it for someone to come back successful especially with the dearth of starting QB jobs and the lack of cap space at this point. But a backup QB opportunity is a reasonable option. And with youthful opinions Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence already speaking out about George Floyd, there might be more business incentive to at least tryout Kaepernick.

  44. Please dont sign Colin after he offered to pay the bail for all the looters and violent criminals. If he was paying the bail for the non violent kerfew that would be one thing.

  45. Also, there is no value in signing a backup QB this year. An injury or down year for your starter could land you the top pick in 2021 and passing any chance on Trevor Lawrence is not economical. There’s probably only one team in the league that will choose its #1 over Trevor Lawrence and the rookie contract that he would gift his team.

  46. I guess Joe Lockhart missed the part where Colin Kaepernick is helping to fund teh destruction of my hometown by paying the bail for looters, arsonists and people committing assault.

  47. It’s not hard to see by most of the comments here that Kaepernick was right about us all along.

  48. Lmao. This. Is. A. Part. Of. The. Problem! People do not want to be placated. The kneeling was a peaceful protest and I said all along that people shouldn’t have been mad about it….. but to sign a guy because you think it will help quell racial tension is silly. It won’t help. Keep wants a starting job and starter salary. He’ll have to battle for that somewhere and it won’t be in Minnesota where they’re paying Cousins a boatload. He has a shot in Chicago and New England in my opinion

  49. Joe – the Vikings don’t need a starting QB. Maybe you’ve heard. Also don’t have the cap space for Kaep.

    Unless your talking a symbolic contract, like a one-day before you retire type deal, it makes no sense.

    Frankly, a much more practical and constructive act would be to give some money and help to the effected areas and residents.

    And that’s probably what they’ll do.

  50. Colin Kapernick was in my opinion disingenuous with his actions. When Colin Kapernick was no longer performing at a high level he was benched for Blaine Gabbert a former 1st round bust in 2015 season. Long before he started kneeling Kapernick wanted to be cut from the 49ers as he was gurrented a little over 11 million dollars if he played or not. He had asked to be traded at the start of the 2016 season as he was no longer the starter. During this time he started to date Nessa Diab(who most likely influenced him and contributed to him not being employed in the NFL)

    When Kaepernick first sat on the bench during the playing of the National Anthem, during the 49ers preseason games on August 14 and 20, nobody noticed until someone took a picture and uploaded it online a week of so later. He was criticized and claimed that the gesture was to draw awareness to problems facing our inner cities, but it never was. Kaepernick was looking to draw attention to himself in my opinion he wanted to force the organization to let hin go or traded atleast as a fan that’s how he came across. This is without even considering his very controversial girlfriend Nessa Diab. She is a big reason why the Baltimore Ravens didn’t sign him after she made some controversial tweets towards the team

    I’m not against him speaking out, but he never took steps to actually address the issue until people criticized him for talking about it and not being about it. His sudden stand for racism was a abrupt change of character and may have been more respected if he had started his movement outside of football first instead of coming across as a opportunist. It is also difficult for people to appreciate your message when you wear socks demonizing/mocking all law enforcement while at the same time expecting them to listen to you. Is it constructive if I say “Hey you pieces of s**t, why aren’t you doing your job better?” or approaching it in a civil manner? I think it’s very easy to see how he has turned a lot of people off with his actions.

    Let’s not discuss his actions at his NFL tryout or him declining to be traded to the Denver Broncos.

  51. nunya says:
    May 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm
    cheeseisfattening says:
    May 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm
    “National Guard mobilizes across U.S. as protests and riots erupt”
    —-
    Reminiscent of the Boston tea party. Good people rise up and demand to be heard.
    —————————
    False equivalence. The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to oppression from another country. The patriots also didn’t start destroying their OWN cities either.
    ____
    They were not different countries at that time. Must be a Packer fan.

  52. Kap would be a huge upgrade for a backup QB. Mannion is not going to win any games and the only current options would be whomever happens to make the practice squad out of Browning or Stanley. Kap would also add a mobile QB element to the Vikings offense which is also something the currently lack. What do they have to lose. It could be a win-win situation. Not to mention Kap has destroyed the Packers in the past.

  53. Sign an over the hill, failing QB? It’s not like the Vikings have try this once or twice before.

  54. First, he never do it because he would perceive it as being used for the NFL’s purposes. He’d be right about that. Secondly, Joe Lockhart is an absolute hack. I wouldn’t listen to much of anything he has to say. Go look up his performance during the Clinton saga. Deer in headlights. Third, it’s clear that Kaepernick doesn’t really want to play football. He wants to be some sort of symbol or even martyr figure. This was demonstrated by his behavior with last year’s multi team workouts.

  55. I’m a lifelong Vikings fan–and I don’t care if Vikings backup quarterback is Ryan Leaf, just so long is it isn’t Kap.

  56. Bill Clinton Former Press Secretary. Any wonder how the NFL has lost it’s way from entertainment to Social Justice? Plenty of others in that movement have made their way to NFL HQ over the years.

    As for this hair brained idea…..

  57. 49erstime says:
    The kneeling was a peaceful protest and I said all along that people shouldn’t have been mad about it….
    >>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    I'll agree,… it was a "peaceful protest",….. but here's the issue.
    Do it on his OWN TIME, not NFL time,… Not game time because we ultimately pay to watch he game regardless of having a ticket or watching on television. This is OUR TIME. It's FOOTBALL TIME,.. not his time. He gets paid to play,…. not protest.

  58. BigAlHeBDMan says:
    May 30, 2020 at 3:34 pm
    When I see the number of thumbs up and down on this website against Kaepernick for PEACEFULLY PROTESTING, then I know what the REAL problem in America is. Same as it;’s been since 1492.
    ———————————
    Is that the only possibility? How dare you assume that? Pathetic.

  59. Why stop at signing Kap as QB? Make the guy mayor or Governor. If that sounds crazy then so does signing him just because MN is the “epicenter”. Vikings don’t owe him anything.

    I think the most sense is to make Kap police commisioner. I want to see what kind of action plan these protesters have to turn around police brutality without offending other races or favoring blacks. Not saying there isn’t a way, but none of these protestors have actually proposed anything to settle the issue that I’m aware of. There are plenty of big African Americans working with cities and police to close the gap. This kind of thinking and change doesn’t happen overnight.

  60. #The-Best-Fans-in-the-NFL says:
    May 30, 2020 at 8:16 pm
    49erstime says:
    The kneeling was a peaceful protest and I said all along that people shouldn’t have been mad about it….
    >>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    I'll agree,… it was a "peaceful protest",….. but here's the issue.
    Do it on his OWN TIME, not NFL time,… Not game time because we ultimately pay to watch he game regardless of having a ticket or watching on television. This is OUR TIME. It's FOOTBALL TIME,.. not his time. He gets paid to play,…. not protest

    ==============================

    "Our time"? Him taking a knee takes exactly no time at all away from game time. Literally…none. Not one single second from game time. What kind of argument is that? Also, if it bugs you that much then shut the hell up when the singer hits the high "free" at the end of the anthem.

  61. BigAlHeBDMan says:
    May 30, 2020 at 3:34 pm
    When I see the number of thumbs up and down on this website against Kaepernick for PEACEFULLY PROTESTING, then I know what the REAL problem in America is. Same as it;’s been since 1492.
    ================================================================================
    1492? I can’t remember 1992. What are you talking about? This country wasn’t technically founded until 1776 and solidified until 1789. No one is contesting Kap’s message. Its the timing and venues of the delivery.

    Irrespective of those facts, can he still help a team win? Will he take a backup role at backup money? And what about…Naomi?

  62. He might not have played in 3 years but I’m sure, if they called him in to end a game, he would still be able to do the kneel down play.

  63. this guy should buy a team of try to get an expansion team… that way instead of telling someone else they should spend millions on a player, he can just do it.
    .
    Championship.

  64. Kap has demonstrated for all to see that 1) he did not appreciate the generous contract he had, 2) he gambled he could do better and lost, 3) he is a very specific type of quarterback who does not fit well with most offenses, 4) he makes everything about race, when really its about his behavior, and 5) he has been offered multiple opptortunites to show he should be signed. He failed to even show up, which well demonstrates his attitude. He is a very talented athlete though I think only a slightly better than average QB. For my money, The Vikings or any team will suffer for any decision to sign Kap to a contract. Just last week he was advocating violence as a legitimate means of protest. He is, quite simply, poison. And any GM who signs this angry young man will likely pay for it with his job.

  65. I don’t think Kaepernick would play for them given all the racism in that community.

  66. Kap simply doesn’t fit the Vikings scheme or salary scale. Simple as that, without getting into the weeds of any political issues.

  67. He just wants a paycheck. His value is gone. And he LEFT $12.5 million behind and opted out and became a free agent. That is a HIM problem.

  68. They can’t sign Kaepernick. Cousins is making too much money to be the backup.

  69. > They can’t sign Kaepernick. Cousins is making too much money to be the backup.

    Someone has forgot that Kap was replaced by Blake Bortles. Twice.

  70. nyneal says:
    May 30, 2020 at 9:43 pm
    If the Vikings signed Kaepernick, it would give me another reason to hate them.
    ******************************
    This is part of the problem. Some people just don’t WANT to get it because it doesn’t affect them. That’s called apathy.. They refuse to admit to the REAL reason for the protest. Sir, I’m going to invoke the George Floyd card.

  71. Assuming Kap still wants to play then the worst possible scenario would a team signing him for anything other that. That’d be an insulting token gesture and would inevitably lead to problems if Cousins got hurt or struggled and it became clear they never had any intent of him actually playing.

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