NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Casts Doubts Over Colin Kaepernick's Return, Says League Has 'Moved On'

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has cast doubt over Colin Kaepernick's chances of returning to professional football, suggesting the league "has moved on."

The former Nevada alumni rose to prominence in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial discrimination.

He last played in the NFL in the same year, before becoming a free agent. When he was not offered a tryout by any of the 32 franchises, Kaepernick sued the owners for colluding to keep him out of the league, before reaching a settlement with the NFL in February.

Last month, the league surprisingly organized a tryout for the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback at the Atlanta Falcons' training facility, inviting all 32 franchises to attend.

Kaepernick, however, moved the workout to a high school stadium approximately 50 miles away at the last minute, maintaining he had done so to ensure media could attend.

Speaking with the media at the Winter League Meetings on Wednesday, Goodell was asked about the botched workout and was eager to stress the issue was firmly in the past as far as the league was concerned.

"It was about opportunity, a credible opportunity," Goodell said as per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. "He chose not to take it, and I understand that. The league has moved on."

In a strongly-worded statement issued after the workout, the NFL said it was "disappointed" by Kaepernick's decision to switch the location of the workout.

The league added 25 of the 32 franchises were present at the Falcons' training facility and that it had made "considerable efforts" to cooperate with Kaepernick's wishes.

Following the workout, the former 49ers quarterback urged the NFL to "stop running" and insisted he was ready to play anywhere in the league.

"I've been ready for three years. I've been denied for three years," he told reporters after his workout.

"So we are waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams and [league commissioner] Roger Goodell to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. We are ready to play. We are ready to go anywhere."

The NFL only announced the event four days before it was due to be held, a decision which left even Kaepernick surprised.

Colin Kaepernick, NFL
Colin Kaepernick looks on during his NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16 in Riverdale, Georgia. Carmen Mandato/Getty

The league scheduled the workout for a Saturday, prompting Kaepernick's representatives to ask for it to be moved to Tuesday—when most coaches and general managers are free—or the following Saturday to give him more time to prepare.

Both requests were turned down, strengthening the belief of those who suggested the event was little more than a PR stunt.

"They want the appearance of giving Colin a chance, but they give him two hours' notice and tell it has to be on a Saturday when they know decision-makers are traveling," Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick's protests when the two played together with the 49ers, was quoted as saying by ESPN days before the event.

However, Kaepernick himself was criticized for his decision to switch the workout.

"He doesn't want to play, he wants to be a martyr," ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said the day following the workout. "You don't wanna work, you just want to make noise and you want to control the narrative."

Former Houston Oilers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins defensive end Mike Golic also criticized Kaepernick's decision.

"If your goal was to play football, in my opinion, you cost yourself by not performing in front of 25 teams," Golic said on his Golic and Wingo show on ESPN.

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