“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s going to take a team to make that decision,” Goodell told ESPN. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.”
The promising words came after years of contention between the league and the former 49er, who privately settled a grievance case last year after accusing the NFL of conspiring to blacklist him for his national anthem protests. Kaepernick has not played since the 2016 season, when he began kneeling to protest racism and police brutality. He has since worked as an activist off the field.
Goodell also proposed that Kaepernick could work for reform within the NFL out of uniform.
“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities,” the commissioner said. “We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time.”
In a video earlier this month, Goodell conceded that the league had erred in “not listening” to NFL players who protested police brutality and systemic racism ― issues that have seized the nation’s attention since the police killing of George Floyd. President Donald Trump, who has called for players to be fired if they kneel, poked at the video in a tweet.
Kaepernick, 32, settled his collusion case against the NFL confidentially last year.
He worked out before some NFL scouts in November after a larger tryout was scrapped in a disagreement with the league.