When President Donald Trump was asked Friday if former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick should have a shot at returning to the NFL, Trump replied "only if he's good enough," USA Today reported.
'They would do anything they can to win games'
"If he was good enough, they'd hire him," Trump added outside the White House, the paper said. "Why wouldn't he play if he was good enough? I think if he's good enough, I know the owners — I know [New England Patriots' owner Robert] Kraft, I know so many of the owners — if he's good enough, they'd sign him. I know these people. They would sign him in a heartbeat. They would do anything they can to win games."
Trump continued, saying he'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 PR move. If he's good enough, he would be in," USA Today noted.
The president's comments came on the heels of a video Kaepernick posted to Twitter Wednesday with a graphic saying he's been "denied work" for 889 days. The clip shows him exercising in a gym and saying in a voiceover, "5 a.m. 5 days a week. For 3 years. Still Ready."
Kaepernick's "denied work" and "still ready" statements likely refer to his 2017 grievance against the NFL claiming league owners colluded to keep him from being signed to a team in the wake of his national anthem protests. Kaepernick's lawyer also pointed a thinly veiled finger at Trump by calling out the executive branch's "partisan political provocation."
What's the background?
Kaepernick hasn't played pro football since the end of the 2016 season, during which he began a nationwide movement of taking a knee instead of standing during pre-game national anthem renditions in protest of police brutality and minority oppression.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, the kneeling phenomenon was still in full swing despite Kaepernick's absence — and Trump, in office for less than a year, weighed in.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now?" the president posed during a September 2017 speech.
While Kaepernick wasn't getting paid to play football, he found other ways to make money.
- In 2018, he became the face of Nike's 30th Anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, which included a tagline nod to Kaepernick's anthem kneeling: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
- In 2017, he signed a book deal for $1 million.
- Kaepernick in February reached a settlement with the NFL over his grievance.
Since then, Nike reportedly cancelled a patriotic shoe design for Independence Day with a Betsy Ross flag because Kaepernick objected to the symbol, setting off waves of protests.
Last month, a group of black pastors demanded that Nike sever ties with Kaepernick, saying his views on America and the flag are fringe opinions.