Twitter Rages after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Explains Why Colin Kaepernick Is Still out of Football

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell came under fire on Wednesday after suggesting Colin Kaepernick had not returned to the NFL because no team thought he would help them improve.

The quarterback has failed to find a team since becoming a free agent almost two years ago, when he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick, who surged to popularity in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest against social and racial injustice, has put his protracted absence from the NFL down to his political beliefs.

Last year, the second-round pick of the 2011 draft filed a lawsuit against the 32 NFL owners accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league. Speaking at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, Goodell returned on the topic and suggested it was up to the franchises to decide which players are on their rosters.

Roger Goodell dances around Colin Kaepernick question when asked if NFL will look bad in history books because of how they handled the Kaep situation

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 30, 2019

"Our clubs are the ones that make decisions on players that they wanna have on their roster," he explained. "They make that individually. They make that in the best interests of their team. I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that's what they'll do."

Goodell's comments were widely panned on social media, particularly as in 2012 Kaepernick led the 49ers to their first appearance to the Super Bowl since 1994. Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens described Goodell's remark as a "flat out lie."

FLAT OUT LIE!!!!! @nfl

— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) January 30, 2019

Over the past two years, Roger Goodell has gone from justifying the Colin Kaepernick unemployment by claiming teams want to win to claiming teams do what's in their best interests to claiming that teams want to win.

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 30, 2019

If Colin Kaepernick’s protest makes you uncomfortable, MLK would have terrified you.

— Terrell Jermaine Starr (@Russian_Starr) January 22, 2019

The ONLY questions Roger Goodell wanted LESS than the "no call" questions, were the two questions about Colin Kaepernick.

— Doug Mouton (@DMoutonWWL) January 30, 2019

The NFL needs to save face, write Kaepernick a big ol’ check and settle this collusion case. As bad as Goodell’s comments sound now, years from now this is going to sound so much worse.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 31, 2019

Goodell on Kaepernick: "I think if a team decides Colin can help their team win, that's what they'll the best interests of their club." This is what you say when a former Super Bowl QB is blackballed because of his political beliefs. Nice commissionering, commissioner.

— Mike Lupica (@MikeLupica) January 30, 2019

Now this is just flat-out bullshit. "If a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do."

— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) January 30, 2019

It is not the first time the NFL commissioner seemed to suggest Kaepernick's football abilities, rather than his political beliefs, were responsible for keeping the quarterback away from the NFL.

"[A]ll [teams] want to get better," Goodell said in June 2017, as per NBC.

"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."

However, only a few months later, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti admitted Kaepernick had been ostracized by the league because of his protests, which have drawn the ire of President Donald Trump and of a number of conservative commentators.

Bisciotti revealed the Ravens had flirted with the idea of adding the quarterback to their roster but ultimately decided against it, suggesting it "might hurt" their brand.

"Quantify hurting the brand," Bisciotti told the Ravens website in July 2017. "I know that we're going to upset some people, and I know that we're going to make people happy that we stood up for somebody that has the right to do what he did. Non-violent protesting is something that we have all embraced. I don't like the way he did it."

In August last year, it was announced Kaepernick's grievance against the league will go to trial after the NFL failed to get the lawsuit dismissed. The former University of Nevada student isn't the only player to have taken legal actions against the NFL, as his former teammate Eric Reid also filed a similar grievance against the league.

Reid was one of the first players to join Kaepernick's protests and became a free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season, before signing for the Carolina Panthers in September last year.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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