The president was asked about Kaepernick during a meeting with the media outside of the White House. Kaepernick, who last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, posted a video to Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday showing himself in a gym and saying he is “still ready” after two-plus seasons out of the NFL.
Asked about Kaepernick’s return, President Trump said: “Only if he’s good enough. … If he was good enough, they’d hire him. Why wouldn’t he play if he was good enough.
“I think if he was good enough, I know the owners, I know Bob Kraft, I know so many of the owners, if he’s good enough, they’d sign him,” Trump said. “So if he’s good enough, I know these people — they would sign him in a heartbeat. They will do anything they can to win games.
“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. If he’s good enough, he will be in.”
Kaepernick drew national attention in 2016 when he sat, and later knelt, during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. In the video released Wednesday, he was shown in a gym exercising, saying “5 a.m., five days a week. For three years. Still ready.” The clip started with a countdown saying he’d been “denied work for 889 days.”
In 2017, at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump criticized NFL players who protested during the national anthem, suggesting that team owners release the players. He said the protests were “hurting the game” and that fans who were offended should walk out of games. Trump did not mention Kaepernick or any other NFL players by name at the rally, but earlier in 2017, he took credit for the fact Kaepernick had not been signed.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers between the 2016 and 2017 seasons and has not been signed since. In October 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL under the collective bargaining agreement, alleging collusion against signing him to a contract. Both his grievance and that of current Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid were settled in February, with the Wall Street Journal reporting they would receive less than $10 million total.