President Trump revisited the Colin Kaepernick situation on Wednesday afternoon. On Wednesday evening, the issue came up again during an appearance on FOX News.
“If he has the ability,” Trump reiterated regarding Kaepernick’s prospects for a return to the NFL. “Look, you know, he can only get it if he has the ability. They’re not gonna lose games because of, you know, wanting to be politically correct or whatever term you might — I don’t know if that’s politically correct or the opposite. But if he has the ability. Look, he was a great rookie. And his second year was great. And then after that he started going downhill rather rapidly and then he was out of football and then he started suing everybody. And I think he made a lot more money doing that then he did with football. But it was — if he, i he has the ability, somebody would take him. I think, look, I know a lot of these owners. If they had, if they had somebody that was gonna win games, they’ll sign him. It doesn’t matter who they are, they’ll sign him.”
There’s plenty to unpack there. For starters, it’s unclear whether signing Kaepernick at this point would be politically correct, but it remains politically and financially risky, given the President’s mandate for standing during the anthem. That fear of alienating customers who think like the President has kept Kaepernick out of the NFL. The question is whether the impact of the George Floyd murder, which has caused many to realize that Kaepernick’s message should have been taken seriously, will clear the path for his return to football.
The President’s message continues to be that Kaepernick isn’t good enough, which implies that there’s nothing else that’s keeping him out of football. Which most would say at this point is erroneous. Although Kaepernick’s performance had indeed declined as a starter (a revolving door of dysfunction in San Francisco from 2014 through 2016 didn’t help), how many quarterbacks go from starting in the NFL to completely and totally rejected for any spot on a depth chart? Jameis Winston found a job. Marcus Mariota found a job. Plenty of other starting quarterbacks whose performance went “downhill rather rapidly” weren’t flushed out of the league entirely.
Then there’s the dig at Kaepernick for “suing everybody,” made by someone with a reputation for suing everybody. Kaepernick filed one lawsuit (technically, an arbitration claim) alleging collusion against the NFL and its teams for keeping him out of the league. He settled it. And he definitely made a lot more money playing football than “suing everybody.”
Regardless, the biggest takeaway from the President’s comments is that he’s basically running the playbook that the NFL and its teams used when feeding to multiple media members the talking points that support the Kaepernick cold shoulder: That his absence from football has nothing to do with protests during the anthem, and that he’s simply no longer good enough to have a spot on any NFL roster.