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.”
“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.
ABC’s XFL opener averaged 3.3 million viewers. Some recent non-football sporting events that drew a similar-size audience:
Dec. 31: Liberty Bowl on ESPN: Navy-Kansas State
Dec. 25: Celtics-Raptors on ESPN
Dec. 29: Liga MX final Leg 2 on Univision: Chivas-Club America
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) February 10, 2020
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 Trump, who called on NFL owners to fire any player “when somebody disrespects our flag.”
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.”