Colin Kaepernick is serious about wanting to return to the NFL, and he’s willing to be a backup quarterback if that’s what it takes to get back into the league.
“I know I have to find my way back in,” Kaepernick told Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson and Adam “Pacman” Jones in an interview with the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “So, yeah, if I have to come in as a backup, that fine. But that’s not where I’m staying. And when I prove that I’m a starter, I want to be able to step on the field as such. I just need that opportunity to walk through the door.”
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016, the same season he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. He said in the interview that if there was an aversion to signing him because of his protest, today’s NFL should be more aligned with his views.
“You have ‘End Racism’ in the back of your end zone. You have ‘Black Lives Matter’ on your helmet. Everything I’ve said should be in alignment with what you’re saying publicly,” he said. “It’s a $16 billion business. When I first took a knee, my jersey went to No. 1. When I did the deal with Nike, their value increased by six billion dollars. Six billion. With a B.
“… So if you’re talking about the business side, it shows [it’s] beneficial. If you’re talking about the playing side, come in, let me compete. You can evaluate me from there. The NFL’s supposed to be a meritocracy. Come in, let me compete. If I’m not good enough, get rid of me. But let me come in and show you.”
Kaepernick recently threw to undrafted receivers for NFL scouts at halftime of Michigan’s spring game, at the invitation of Jim Harbaugh, his former San Francisco 49ers coach. In the interview with “I Am Athlete,” Kaepernick noted that both of his 49ers coaches, Harbaugh and Chip Kelly, said he “made the locker room better,” contrasting a narrative that he would be a distraction for any team that signs him.
“That 2016 season, my last year, my teammates voted me most courageous and inspirational player. So, when you’re talking about the people that are in the building, that has never come out that I’ve been a distraction. That’s never come out that I’ve been an issue for the people I’ve played with,” he said.
Kaepernick noted that he hasn’t done interviews about his desire to play in the NFL again, and that’s because he didn’t want to feed the narrative that there would be a “media circus” if a team signed him. Privately, however, Kaepernick has reached out to teams for a workout. The only one he has received was from the Seattle Seahawks in 2017.
“No team’s brought me in for a workout,” Kaepernick said. “No team has brought me in for an opportunity. I had the one meeting with Seattle in 2017. And out of that, Pete Carroll said, ‘Hey, he’s a starter; we have a starter.’ And things moved on from there. But they don’t have a starter right now,” he said.
Kaepernick said he ultimately wants to win a championship after coming so close with the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII but falling “one play away” in a 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“I need to finish that. My mentality isn’t just to go out, ‘Oh, I want to compete.’ No, I want to win a championship,” he said.