Colin Kaepernick: Roger Goodell encourages NFL teams to sign quarterback

Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem
Kaepernick kneeled for the first time in September 2016

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he would "encourage" a team to sign former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 32, began kneeling during the US national anthem in 2016 in a protest against racial injustice and has been a free agent since 2017.

The National Football League banned players from protesting in such a way but now says it was "wrong" to do so.

Goodell said he will "support" a club wishing to sign Kaepernick.

"If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going take a team to make that decision," he told ESPN.external-link

"I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that."

Goodell added on Monday: "If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better."

Kaepernick's peaceful protest has gained renewed support in the wake of the death of unarmed African American George Floyd, who died on 25 May while being restrained by a white police officer in Minneapolis, which sparked protests across the US and worldwide.

Current NFL stars including Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr had called on the league to "condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people".

The fashion stylist supporting Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also posted a statement asking for forgiveness after he was criticised for saying kneeling protests would be "disrespecting the flag".

The NFL has since pledged $250m (£198m) over a 10-year period to help combat systemic racism in the United States and says the fund will "support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans".

However, President Donald Trump has maintained his opposition and says he will not watch the NFL or the US Soccer sides if players do not stand for the national anthem.

Kaepernick became a free agent after the 2016 season and remains unsigned. He filed a grievance against NFL owners in October 2017, believing they were conspiring not to hire him because of his kneeling protests. It was resolved in February under a confidentiality agreement.

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