Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick got some surprising support from President Trump on Friday. Mr. Trump said he would “love” to see the former 49ers star signed by an NFL team again “if he’s good enough.”
Mr. Trump was on his way to the Hamptons for a fundraiser when a reporter asked if Kaepernick should get an opportunity to play in the NFL again. The president, who has repeatedly criticized Kaepernick and other athletes for protesting during the national anthem, gave his unexpected — and conditional —endorsement.
“Yeah, if he’s good enough,” Trump said. “I know the owners. 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.”
He added, “I’d like to see it. Frankly, I’d love see Kaepernick come in if he’s good enough. But I don’t want to see him come in if somebody thinks it’s a good PR move.”
With the football season set to start in a few weeks, Kaepernick, 31, has been making strides to show that he’s primed for an NFL return. On Wednesday, he shared a clip of himself in an intense workout on Twitter with the caption: “5 a.m. Five days a week. For three years. Still ready.” The video, which has garnered more than 3.1 million views, kicks off with a graphic saying “denied work for 889 days.”
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to bring awareness to racial injustice in America in 2016, when he was playing for the 49ers, inspiring athletes across sports to embrace the movement. The protests became a subject of ire for Mr. Trump, who publicly called out participating players for not standing during the “Star Spangled Banner.” The president said he would tell NFL owners to “fire” players who knelt. He also called out Nike last year when the sports apparel company made Kaepernick one of the faces of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
Kaepernick, along with former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, filed a grievance in 2017 against the NFL alleging the two remained unsigned because of collusion by owners following the kneeling protest. The NFL and lawyers for Kaepernick and Reid reached a private settlement on the matter in February.
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