President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE said Wednesday that he would "love to see" quarterback Colin Kaepernick "get another shot" in the NFL, adding that the former San Francisco 49ers star should make a team roster only "if he has the playing ability."
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 igniting a feud with Trump, who called on NFL owners to fire any player "when somebody disrespects our flag."
“If he deserves it, he should,” Trump said of the prospect of Kaepernick playing in the NFL in a Wednesday interview with Sinclair. “If he has the playing ability. He started off great, and then he didn’t end up very great in terms of a player.
“His playing wasn’t up to snuff,” the president added. “The answer is absolutely I would, as far as kneeling, I would love to see him get another shot. But obviously he has to be able to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair.”
Kaepernick's overall regular-season record in the NFL was 28-30.
He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in just his second season, narrowly losing to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in 2013. The team didn't make the postseason in Kaepernick's final three seasons with the team, including in 2016, when the 49ers went 2-14.
The 32-year-old has not played since, with some citing his kneeling initiative and social justice commentary, suggesting it's a PR headache for teams, while others have accused NFL owners of racism for not signing him.
Trump made similar comments in September, telling reporters outside the White House that if owners thought Kaepernick was "good enough," they would sign him."
“If he was good enough, they’d hire him. Why wouldn’t he play if he was good enough? I think if he’s good enough — I know the owners. I know [New England Patriots owner] Robert Kraft. I know so many of the owners. If he’s good enough, they’d sign him."
"So I’d like to see it," Trump added. "Frankly, I’d love to see Kaepernick come in if he’s good enough. But I don’t want to see him come in because somebody thinks it’s a good PR move."
Trump owned the United States Football League's New Jersey Generals from 1983 to 1985 before the league folded.
The president also said in September 2017 at an Alabama rally that owners should consider firing any player who "disrespects our flag."
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired," Trump said at the time.
The president's comments came just hours after the Los Angeles Chargers added Kaepernick to their emergency workout list.
Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is expected to be the team's starting quarterback when the season opens in September.
The Chargers also drafted Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft in April.
Trump's remarks come amid a nationwide reckoning on racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, sparking demonstrations across the country. Amid the sometimes-violent protests that have occurred in major cities, prominent figures, including House Democrats, have taken to publicly kneeling as a show of solidarity with those speaking out against systemic racism.