Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick is no closer to finding find work on the playing field these days after his apparent shutout from the multi-billion dollar sports league.
Just how far away the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is from taking snaps again was highlighted this week after the commissioner for the alternative XFL discussed how Kaepernick’s “exorbitant” salary demands had derailed plans to bring him on as a player.
“We gave it some thought,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck told NPR in a interview on Sunday, saying the league, which relaunched this month after being defunct since 2001, has “some pretty significant salary restrictions” right now.
Kaepernick, the starting passer in 58 games over six seasons for the 49ers, was reportedly among a list of notable former NFL players invited to join the XFL, the pro American football league owned by wrestling promoter and exec Vince McMahon. It approached the quarterback as early as the fall of 2018, as The Sporting News reported in February 2019, about possibly about signing on. However, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
“We’re a start-up league, so we want to make sure [that] we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent,” Luck said to NPR. “And the salary requirements that some folks shared with us were, in our case, exorbitant, so we couldn’t go down that path.”
The XFL is pegging starting quarterback salaries at roughly $500,000 this season. Kaepernick’s team had reportedly asked for $20 million — some 40 times what the rebooted league is paying passers.
Luck said the spring football league simply couldn’t go for it.
“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.
The XFL’s inaugural season had a strong debut this past weekend with an average of 3.3 million viewers tuning in to watch its nationally televised opening game on ABC. The league had an unsuccessful run back in 2001 and folded after a single season.
These days, XFL officials are working on a tight leash and hoping to avoid a similar situation the second time around. Yahoo Sports notes that if XFL 2.0 survives more than three seasons, it will be “the most successful competitor to the NFL since the American Football League more than 50 years ago.”
The XFL has posited itself as an alternative to what’s been dubbed the “No Fun League.” Interestingly, its strict policy promising that all players should and will stand for the national anthem likely wouldn’t have made Kaepernick a good fit for the league anyway.
The former 49er sparked controversy in 2016 when he began kneeling during the anthem to protest racism and police violence in the U.S. Several other players followed suit, drawing a sharp rebuke from President Donald Trump, who called on NFL owners to fire the “sons of b—–s” who dared to “disrespect our flag.”
Luck seems to share the same sentiment, telling the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast this month that “players will stand and respect the flag” — or face “consequences.”
Kaepernick, 32, hasn’t landed a job with another NFL team since 2016 and his efforts to return to the league have been stymied. In 2019, he settled a lawsuit accusing NFL execs of colluding to keep him out of the league.