FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event held to discuss an administration plan aimed at helping to prevent suicides by U.S. veterans and other Americans, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be in favor of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick returning to the field.
Kaepernick says no NFL teams have signed him since he left the San Francisco 49ers after the 2016 season because he knelt during the pre-game playing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
“As far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot,” Trump said in an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“But obviously he has to be able to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair,” Trump said.
As recently as Sunday, Trump said he would not watch NFL games if players did not stand for the national anthem. He has said in the past it was disrespectful to the country.
Kaepernick’s kneeling protest came under renewed focus in recent weeks, as demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality spread across the country after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this month that the league had made mistakes in not listening to players. He said on Monday he would encourage teams to sign Kaepernick, adding that the league would also welcome the quarterback’s off-the-field guidance on social justice.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, claiming collusion after no teams signed him. He and the NFL settled in 2019.
Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall