Roger Goodell’s video on Friday, supporting Black Lives Matter and admitting players’ voices shouldn’t have been silenced in 2016, was stunning. It also lacked any mention of Colin Kaepernick.
The topic is still sensitive, four years after Kaepernick last appeared in the NFL. It’s still very sensitive to players.
Seattle Seahawks running back Carlos Hyde, Kaepernick’s teammate with the San Francisco 49ers, was the latest to put forth a way for the NFL to show it is serious about racial issues: Give Kaepernick a job.
Carlos Hyde: NFL should sign Kaepernick
It’s not like players haven’t noted the 180 the NFL has done on the topic of racial injustice. In 2016 there was a panic from owners. In 2020, the NFL seems to understand it made a mistake overreacting to a small number of fans who were outraged over players taking a knee in silent protest during the national anthem.
The one part that hasn’t been fixed yet is Kaepernick’s exclusion from the league. Last year the NFL settled a collusion claim made by Kaepernick.
“I think the NFL could start by signing Kap back,” Hyde said Monday, via Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune. “I think if they sign Kap back, that would really show that they are trying to move in a different direction.
“Kap was making a statement four years ago about what’s going on in today’s world. And the NFL didn’t bother to listen to him then.
“So I think they should start by doing that.”
That certainly would be a statement.
Will a team consider Kaepernick?
Teams have had the chance to sign Kaepernick for three years. The Seahawks seemed close twice but passed. The second time the Seahawks reportedly canceled a free-agent meeting after Kaepernick wouldn’t promise to not kneel during the anthem.
Through no fault of his own, a Kaepernick comeback wouldn’t be easy even if a team realizes the league was wrong to ignore him the past few years. Kaepernick is 32 and his last NFL game was Jan. 1, 2017. It’s not unprecedented to come back after a hiatus like that, but it’s challenging.
Through the entire Kaepernick story, the NFL’s stance has been that it can’t control who teams sign or don’t sign. Basically, the league can’t force a team to sign any player.
But if the NFL really wants to show players that times have changed, giving Kaepernick another shot would be the most powerful message yet.
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