Eagles owner Jeff Lurie refuted the notion that NFL teams are "blacklisting" free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. At the same time, Lurie was either unable or unwilling to say whether the Eagles would have any interest in signing Kaepernick should quarterback become a need.
"I have no idea," Lurie said Thursday. "We are completely happy with our quarterback situation."
It's true, the Eagles are not looking for a quarterback. Carson Wentz is the future of the franchise, and Nick Foles is one of the best backups in the league, not to mention has close ties to coach Doug Pederson and the organization. There's no reason for Kaepernick to be on the club's radar.
But hypothetically speaking, would the Eagles consider Kaepernick if the need arose? Lurie punted to the front office when pressed on the topic, comparing it to the process the club implemented before signing Michael Vick in 2009.
"Like every position situation, if that happened, we'd have to fully evaluate it," Lurie said. "With Michael Vick, there was a complete vetting of how is he as a teammate? What is his character? What is his potential? What is his football intelligence? Can he be a backup, in Michael’s situation, or third string, in that time period?
"It's a whole series of evaluations. That's how we approach any player acquisition. I don't want to talk about any specific player."
The Eagles signed Vick fresh off a 21-month stint in federal prison for his role in operating an illegal dog fighting ring. It was a wildly controversial decision that led fans to question their allegiance to the team, and animal rights activists to protest the organization.
Hard to imagine a professional athlete could be more radioactive than Vick was at that time — yet Kaepernick just might.
Since opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March, Kaepernick has been met with little interest on the free-agent market. While the 29-year-old is a flawed quarterback, the larger issue appears to be his protest of the United States national anthem, which has drawn criticism from football fans and non-sports fans alike.
While Kaepernick vowed to stand in the future, his insistence on remaining seated, then taking a knee during the national anthem in the past — to protest police brutality and racial injustice — has proven to be about as unpopular as animal cruelty. Whichever team eventually signs him can count on a public backlash, especially amid a political environment that can best be described as volatile.
There are additional explanations as to why Kaepernick is unemployed. There's also no doubt politics is chief among them. Still, Lurie insisted there is no conspiracy or concerted effort on the part of the owners to keep Kaepernick out of the league.
"I think the definition of 'blacklist' is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that," Lurie said. "I've never had a discussion with anybody.
"It doesn't work that way. There's no communication. We're very competitive against each other, the 32 owners. I don't reveal anything. They don't reveal anything. There's no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I've never heard any discussion of a player like that.
"You keep it to yourself. You have your own strategy."
Interestingly enough, Lurie never revealed his own feelings on Kaepernick's protests. Instead, Lurie spoke at length about taking "respectful" and positive actions toward shedding light on and solving the types of social injustices Kaepernick was protesting.
"It's a big problem in America, social injustice," Lurie said. "It's a big problem around the globe. Anybody who wants to do proactive things, to try to reverse social injustice, I'm all in favor of. It has to be respectful. It certainly has to respect the military and the people that serve, the women and men that serve our country, emergency responders, whoever that is. You've got to, I think, do it in a respectful way.
"But I applaud anybody that can find respectful ways of trying to use their platform in some way to discuss social injustice. We all need to discuss it. We've all seen it around us. We live in a city that has a lot of it. There are multiple issues. They're not simply racial issues. There are a lot of economic issues."
Kaepernick has certainly been proactive. He recently fulfilled a pledge to donate $1 million to various charitable causes over a 10-month period, and has spoken out eloquently at times about some of the racial and social issues that sparked his protest.
Part of Kaepernick's problem seems to be the message might be getting lost or obscured because in part to the platform he chose.
"I don't think anybody who is protesting the national anthem, in and of itself, is very respectful," Lurie said. "If that's all their platform is, is to protest the national anthem, then what's the proactive nature of it? But I think we sometimes can misinterpret what those are.
"I've talked to (Eagles safety) Malcolm Jenkins about it. He’s very involved in our community here. That's my involvement with Malcolm. It's, ‘What can you do as a player to be involved in the community?’ Whether it's social injustice, whether it's autism — you name it. There are opportunities to really be proactive. We, as a franchise, try to be as proactive as you can be as a sports franchise. We hope we'll get more and more proactive."
Lurie preached the importance of trying to understand a person's motives and feelings, rather than draw sweeping conclusions based almost entirely off of a single action.
"I think it's all about respect," Lurie said. "Anyone who doesn't have respect for the servicemen that support the country loses me. So it's very important to show respect for the flag, for the anthem, but it can be misinterpreted that certain people are not showing respect.
"We’ve got to get to the bottom of what are they trying to accomplish, and are they being proactive in the community, and what are they doing? I think you’ve got to take a holistic view of it."
Unfortunately for Kaepernick, Lurie's Eagles aren't looking for a quarterback, so while the owner might be willing to entertain the idea as a hypothetical, that's not going to help the QB get a job.