President Donald Trump isn’t in favor of National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem. But he believes that the original kneeler, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, should get another chance to play in the league.
Trump previously has been famously against kneeling during the anthem, calling on NFL owners to fire players who protested in that manner. But now, he says Kaepernick should be allowed back in the league “If he deserves it,” with the caveat, “If he has the playing ability. He started off great, and then he didn’t end up very great … as a player,” Trump told WABC TV’s Scott Thuman, who tweeted part of the conversation.
The surprising change in attitude comes just a week after Trump said he would boycott NFL games if players kneel during the national anthem.
Kaepernick has been out of football since opting-out of the last year of his contract in 2017. He since has settled a collusion charge with the league after not being signed by any team. But the recent protests and uprising across the nation has led to a softening of attitudes about Kaepernick’s non-violent protest.
”He was terrific in his rookie year and then I think he was very good in his second year and then I think something happened, so his playing wasn’t up to snuff,” Trump said. “The answer is, absolutely I would. As far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot, but obviously he has to be able to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also said he’d encourage any team to sign Kaepernick. The Los Angeles Chargers have put the former 49ers on their workout list, an informal list of free agent players to monitor in case of injuries.
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