Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy says Patriots 'should sign' Kaepernick

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy says Patriots 'should sign' Kaepernick
© Getty

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyWe are failing with COVID, let's not fail on mental health   The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality The Boston Globe endorses Markey in primary against Kennedy MORE III (D-Mass.) called on the NFL to apologize to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and said his home state team, the New England Patriots, should sign him.

"The NFL should apologize to Colin Kaepernick and the Patriots should sign him," Kennedy, who is running for Senate, wrote in a tweet on Tuesday that has since racked up more than 78,000 likes and more than 10,000 retweets.

ADVERTISEMENT

The backing by Kennedy comes several months after the team’s star quarterback, Tom Brady, left the Patriots to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016, when he became the first football player to kneel during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the country.

While a number of other players joined him in taking a knee during the anthem, Kaepernick was seen as the face of the movement and often targeted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE and other conservatives who argued his protests were unpatriotic.

At the end of that season, Kaepernick, who was once one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, became a free agent and he hasn't been signed by a team since.

ADVERTISEMENT

The following year, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league, accusing owners of colluding to keep him from receiving another contract. He reached a settlement with the league last year. 

As protests against racism and police brutality ripple throughout the nation following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last month after a white officer was seen kneeling on his neck, the debate around Kaepernick’s kneeling protests has been reignited.

Last month, Lakers star LeBron James shared a viral meme juxtaposing a picture of Kaepernick kneeling in the NFL with a photo of the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck. 

James wrote in a message accompanying the visual on Instagram, “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke.”

The NFL, which announced and later halted a policy in 2018 that banned on-field demonstrations during the national anthem, has also issued an apology amid nationwide protests.

In a video message earlier this month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league admits it was "wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

"We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter," he said then in the video, which did not directly mention Kaepernick. He added, "Without black players there would be no National Football League and the protests across the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."