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Donald Trump on Friday raised some eyebrows when he told reporters that he would like to see Colin Kaepernick return to playing in the NFL.
The president was asked about the former San Francisco star quarterback because the 2019 preseason kicked off Thursday night for the entire league.
“Frankly, I’d love to see Kaepernick come in, if he’s good enough,” Trump said, according to ESPN. “But I don’t want to see him come in because somebody thinks it’s a good PR move. If he’s good enough, he will be in.”
Trump also noted he knew some NFL team owners, personally, such as New England’s Robert Kraft and believed they would hire the free agent if they thought he could be an asset.
Some found that response to be shocking since Trump used Kaepernick as a topic of anger at rallies to fire up his crowd after it was the quarterback who started a protest movement among athletes when he kneeled during the National Anthem.
Kaepernick, and then other players on assorted teams, did so to protest the treatment of African Americans by police officers and by society in general.
Trump went so far as to call Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” during one rally and said any player who did not stand for the anthem should be fired. Trump also blasted an ad Kaepnernick did for Nike last fall that stated “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
The kneeling debate sparked a national conversation about what constitutes free speech and the right to protest peacefully. The league has since instituted a no-kneeling policy, which instructs players to stay in the locker room during pregame if they wish to protest.
Kaepernick tweeted a video this week showing he is still in top physical shape, writing, “5am. 5 days a week. For 3 years. Still Ready.”
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