Speaking to reporters Friday, the leader of the free world said Kaepernick ought to have a shot at coming back to the league if he’s up to par.
“If he’s good enough, and I think if he was good enough, I know the owners, and I know Bob Kraft and so many of the owners. If he’s good enough, they would sign him,” Trump said to reporters at the White House August 9 before heading to his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort for his summer vacation. “So if he’s good enough, I know these people, they would sign him in a heartbeat. They will do anything to win games. So I would like to see it. Frankly, I would love to see Kaepernick come in if he’s good enough.”
Trump’s remarks on Kaepernick, who has not responded to the president, come two days after the free agent quarterback indicated he’s gearing up to get back to work as a signed pro football player. On Twitter Wednesday, the former San Francisco 49ers player said, “5am. 5 days a week. For 3 years. Still Ready.”
The tweet accompanied a video of Kaepernick doing a weight-heavy workout that said he’d been denied work for 889 days.
Kaepernick settled a 2017 lawsuit against the NFL in February in which he alleged collusion. The athlete, who filed the litigation with Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, claimed the league blacklisted the two after they began kneeling during the national anthem at 49ers games. The demonstration, which Kaepernick began during the 2016 preseason, was in protest of the killings of Black Americans by police.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” he explained to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick’s actions drew fierce criticism from Trump, who became one of his biggest detractors.
The president even called for any NFL star who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be fired. To Trump, kneeling rather than standing as the anthem plays is a sign of “disrespect” to “our flag.”
“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that?” Trump said at a Kentucky rally in 2017. “I said if I remember that one, I’m going to report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag, right?”