One player noticeably absent during the XFL's kick-off weekend Saturday and Sunday was controversial former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Given Kaepernick's fallout with the NFL, one might expect that he would jump at opportunities to showcase his talents on a different stage in order to lure offers. With that not being the case for Kapernick, many have speculated as to why.
Is Kaepernick being blackballed by the XFL?
Not quite. Actually, according to recent comments from XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, the reverse may be closer to the truth.
What is the XFL saying?
Speaking with NPR on Saturday, Luck shed light on the situation, confirming that the league had spoken with Colin Kaepernick about joining the league last year, but that the former NFL quarterback's salary demands were too "exorbitant" for any agreement to be made.
"We gave it some thought," Luck said. "We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know. We're a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent. And the, you know, salary requirements that some folks, you know, shared with us were in our case exorbitant, so we, you know, couldn't go down that path."
"We spoke with his representative, and the salary requirements that were broached in that conversation were exorbitant and certainly out of our range," he added.
'Exorbitant' is putting it lightly
Luck's remarks correspond with a Sporting News report from last year claiming that Kaepernick was seeking at least $20 million to suit up for the new league — a demand well outside the league's range.
According to Sporting News, while the XFL is willing to pay more for the coveted quarterback position, they are not willing to pay nearly that much. "The highest-paid players make just shy of $500,000 in the XFL. Not even some starting quarterbacks in the NFL make that much," the outlet notes.
Luck has reportedly made similar comments about Kaepernick's salary demands in the past, telling the Tampa Bay Times last year that "his salary demands are way out of our ballpark" and because of that, "he was never really a viable option."
But, even if Kaepernick were to significantly lower his salary demands, questions remain about whether the league and he would be able to come to an agreement regarding national anthem and on-field protest policies.
The XFL has a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem. If they don't, there will be consequences.