NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterates QB Colin Kaepernick not being blackballed

By The Sports Xchange   |   June 17, 2017 at 4:48 PM
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated his belief that unsigned free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not being blackballed around the league for his national anthem protest last season.

Kaepernick, 29, made headlines in 2016 when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest injustices against African Americans and minorities around the United States. It has now been over three months since the former starter became a free agent.

Goodell again disputed claims teams are ostracizing Kaepernick as the commissioner spoke at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Thursday during the "Rams All-Access" event.

"All (teams) want to get better," Goodell told NFL Network's Andrea Kremer while onstage at the event, via Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. "And if they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they're going to do it. They're going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. So those are football decisions. They're made all the time. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they're going to do it."

Kaepernick, who who opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March, visited with the Seattle Seahawks last month. The Seahawks ended up signing backup quarterback Austin Davis on June 5, closing out any possibility of Kaepernick joining the team.

The Seahawks' decision to sign Davis continued the discussion of why Kaepernick hasn't received much attention on the free agent market. His visit to Seattle was his only one with an NFL team this offseason.

New York Giants owner John Mara told TheMMQB.com last month that his team heard from many fans against adding Kaepernick to its roster.

"All my years in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue," Mara said. "'If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.' It wasn't one or two letters. It was a lot. It's an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I've run into."

Goodell responded at the L.A. event when asked about Mara's comments.

"It did spark conversation, which I think is a part of what Colin Kaepernick intended to do," Goodell said. "I don't think that's going to affect people from saying, 'I'm going to do what's in the best interest of my football team and give my team the best chance to win,' because that's what every team wants to do."

Kaepernick passed for 2,241 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while fumbling a career-worst seven times with the 49ers last season. He also ran for 468 yards and two touchdowns.

In six NFL seasons, Kaepernick has passed for 12,271 yards with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, adding another 2,300 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Kaepernick started the 2016 campaign as the 49ers' backup behind Blaine Gabbert before taking over as the starter on Oct. 16.

With Kaepernick under center, the 49ers lost nine straight and 10 of 11 overall to finish the season with the second-worst record in the NFL at 2-14.

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