Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gone three seasons without finding an NFL team willing to give him chance to a earn a roster spot.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week issued a statement to condemn racism in light of the protests around the country after George Floyd died in police custody when a Minneapolis policeman held him down with a knee to his neck.
Goodell admitted the league was wrong for not listening to NFL players and encouraged them to speak out and peacefully protest after Kaepernick began the movement in 2016. However, Goodell did not mention Kaepernick, who received an undisclosed settlement from the NFL last year.
“The NFL is a PR machine, and they know how to construe the messaging to get their point across and to appease and pacify the public without overstepping what they consider their moral high ground and stepping off that pedestal,” 49ers veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said on a video call with Bay Area reporters. “That’s the unfortunate part.”
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
Sherman said he belongs within the majority of those who have spoken out to express the opinion Kaepernick should not have been unable to find employment as a professional football player at only 29 years old.
“I can want him to have a job, and I can think he deserves a job as much as anybody and everybody’s said it who said anything, because he’s a good player and he showed he can play in this league,” Sherman said. “He can play at the highest level, so he deserves a job.
“In order to answer those questions, I had to be one of the decision-makers who didn’t give him a job. And I’m not that person. I think until those people are asked those difficult questions, we’ll never get the answers.”
Kaepernick spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the 49ers. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers following the 2016 season when new general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan informed him the organization would release him. He was scheduled to make $16.9 million in salary and bonuses in 2017.
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Sherman, who is set to enter his third season with the 49ers, complimented the organization’s handling of race issues. He recognized Lynch, Shanahan, CEO Jed York and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Paraag Marathe.
York recently announced a $1 million contribution to local and national organizations designed to create change.
“A lot has been made about them throwing money at the issue, but I think there’s a lot more at the foundational level that has been done by not only our coaching staff but our players, our front office, our ownership, to really make a difference and make a change in this world," Sherman said.
Players have been joined in conversations within the organization. Sherman called the interactions “powerful.”
“I don’t see our team as the issue,” Sherman said. “Our team is a bunch of guys who come from a ton of different places who get along very well. We don’t see color lines like that. We don’t treat each other that way.
"At the end of the day, it’s about spreading that love and about spreading that impact.”
[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]