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XFL commissioner: Kaepernick rejected by league after 'exorbitant' salary demands

Former NFL star turned activist Colin Kaepernick was among a list of notable former NFL players who were invited to join the XFL, but ultimately the two sides could not come to an agreement due to "exorbitant" salary demands made by the controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, according to the upstart league's commissioner.

XFL commissioner Oliver Luck told NPR on Sunday that the league approached Kaepernick, but said that “significant salary restrictions” ultimately meant that the spring football league “couldn't go down that road.”

“We gave it some thought,” Luck said. “We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know. We're a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent. And the salary requirements that some folks shared with us were, in our case, exorbitant, so we couldn't go down that path.”

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“We spoke with his representative and the salary requirements that were broached in that conversation were exorbitant and certainly out of our range," Luck later added.

The revelation comes as ratings for the league's opening weekend were relatively strong, with its opening game on ABC averaging 3.3 million viewers. By comparison, the viewership was higher than a strong NBA Christmas Day matchup between the Boston Celtics and the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

Kaepernick, who once guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl, began kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season to protest racial injustice in the United States. Other players quickly followed, eventually ignited a feud with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE, who called on NFL owners to fire any player "when somebody disrespects our flag."

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Following the 2016 season, Kaepernick has not landed a job with another NFL team.

The XFL requires that all players stand for the national anthem. 

“Players have numerous opportunities to express themselves with all the platforms that exist today,” Luck said of the rule. “So, you know, standing for the national anthem we believe is a part of their responsibility as players in our league. But we think it's important to have that requirement for our players.”