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“If he deserves it, he should,” Trump said. “If he has the playing ability. He started off great and then he didn’t end up very great in terms of as a player.”
In 2016, Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Trump criticized those who kneeled during the anthem, calling for them to lose their jobs.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,'” the president said at a campaign rally in Alabama in 2017.
Kaepernick went unsigned as a free agent in 2017 and hasn’t played in the NFL since.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday he “encourage[s]” a team to sign the quarterback, via ESPN.
Goodell recently apologized in a video for the NFL’s stance on the protests sparked by Kaepernick, saying, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
Trump tweeted this two days after Goodell’s statement:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?
Though he hasn’t softened his stance on protests during the national anthem, the president says he now has no problem with Kaepernick being on an NFL team.
The 32-year-old was effective when he was last on the field with 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 12 games (11 starts).