Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, shut out of the NFL for years after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, would be welcomed with “open arms” by the owner of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“I believe in Colin Kaepernick,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said Wednesday on NBC Sports during an episode of “Race in America: A Candid Conversation.” He “deserves every chance in the world to become a quarterback” in the NFL, Davis added.
Kaepernick has “sacrificed a lot of the things that he could have been doing in his life to get a message across about police violence and equity and inclusion in America,” Davis said. “I stand by that.”
He added: “If our coaches and general manager want to bring him in or want him to be the quarterback on this team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
Kaepernick could not immediately be reached for comment. Despite Davis’ claim, it’s unclear if there would be a spot for Kaepernick on the team. Player decisions are up to new General Manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, who haven’t yet said anythingabout him publicly.
Kaepernick, a talented quarterback, played his last NFL game on Jan. 1, 2017, after he protested against racism and police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem at the start of games. He was viciously singled out for criticism by then-President-elect Donald Trump, who suggested he get out of the country — instead of trying to improve it.
Ironically, Trump and his followers claim to be fierce free speech defenders and rail against crackdowns — on extremist right-wing speech.
In 2019, the NFL paid undisclosed millions of dollars to Kaepernick and former 49ers teammate Eric Reid to settle their lawsuits alleging collusion among the league’s 32 owners to ostracize them.
Davis compared Kaepernick to gold-medal American sprinter Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos, who famously raised their fists to protest racism on the awards platform in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Both were immediately suspended and sent home.
Kaepernick tweeted last month that he misses training with professional players. He said he’s been “working out and staying ready in case an opportunity to play presented itself.”
Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 through 2016, throwing for more than 12,000 yards and leading the team to the 2013 Super Bowl. Kaepernick became a free agent before the 2017 season.
All NFL teams are currently in Las Vegas for the 2022 draft. The three-day event kicked off Thursday.