President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he believes free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick should get another shot in the NFL, if he deserves it.
"If he deserves it, he should," Trump told Sinclair's Scott Thurman. "If he has the playing ability."
Trump's comments come just two days after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he encourages teams to sign Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, the same year he decided to kneel for the national anthem in order to raise attention to police brutality and racial injustice in America.
In 2017, Trump said during a rally in Alabama that if a player kneels for the anthem, NFL owners should "Get that son of a b---- off the field right now."
Since the quarterback parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers following the 2016 season, Kaepernick has yet to receive a contract offer from any team. He, alongside former teammate Eric Reid, previously filed a grievance against the NFL, stating owners colluded to keep both of them unemployed after they knelt for the anthem. The two sides reached a settlement in February 2019.
In his comments Wednesday, Trump alluded to Kaepernick's decline in play, rather than him kneeling for the anthem, as the reason the passer has remained unsigned for three years.
"He started off great, and then he didn't end up very great in terms of as a player," Trump said. "He was terrific in his rookie year, I think he was terrific his second year, and then I think something happened. His playing wasn't up to snuff."
Kaepernick, a second-round pick in 2011, only appeared in three games as a rookie, sitting behind Alex Smith. However, during his second season, Kaepernick got his first opportunity to start after Smith went down with a concussion midway through the season.
Then-49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh stuck with Kaepernick as the starter the rest of the season, even after Smith returned, and the second-year quarterback led San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance. After Smith was shipped to Kansas City the following offseason, Kaepernick led San Francisco to a 12-4 record during the 2013 season, reaching the NFC championship game before falling to the Seattle Seahawks.
Kaepernick was the 49ers' primary starter for the next three seasons. After Harbaugh left following the 2015 season, San Francisco began to struggle tremendously. Although Kaepernick put up modest stats throughout his tenure in the Bay Area, the quarterback went just 1-10 as a starter in his final season with the team.
For his career, Kaepernick has a 28-30 record as a starter with 72 passing touchdowns and just 30 interceptions.
"The answer is absolutely I would," Trump said, reiterating his opinion on if Kaepernick deserves another shot. "As far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot, but obviously he has to play well. If he can't play well, I think it would be very unfair."
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