Todd Kirkland/Associated Press
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said during a conversation with Mike Greenberg for ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.”
Goodell also said Kaepernick can have a role with the NFL even if he isn’t playing to help the league make strides as the national conversation has turned to systemic racism and police brutality:
“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities. We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table, and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues, that have been around for a long time.”
Kaepernick made headlines when he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism during his playing days.
It is notable he has not signed with a team since he opted out of his contract following the 2016 campaign considering he threw for 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions that season. He helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Goodell’s latest comments come after he did not mention Kaepernick by name in a video he released saying the league condemned racism and was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” and encouraged them to “speak out and peacefully protest.”
The video was in response to a number of the NFL’s biggest stars, including Michael Thomas, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley, asking the league to take a stronger stance following the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests it sparked:
A source recently told TMZ Sports that Kaepernick is “in the best shape of his life” and is training every day.