The unintended consequence of boosting Colin Kaepernick‘s chances of returning to professional football is a real possibility because of the heightened attention surrounding the wrongful arrest of a Black NFL player by White police officers in Las Vegas last month. While NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t make that direct correlation when questioned about the alleged racial profiling of Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett, he told reporters Thursday that he expected the free agent quarterback to eventually rejoin the NFL as a player.
“I’m still convinced that he’ll get that opportunity when the right opportunity comes along,” Goodell told reporters before offering up the puzzling disclaimer that “I’m not a football expert.”
That comment came less than 24 hours after Goodell offered a more lukewarm response to the arrest — one that appealed in part for “promoting mutual respect” for law enforcement. Goodell has long maintained that Kaepernick was not being “ostracized” by NFL teams.
Bennett’s heartfelt account of the arrest that took place after last month’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor MacGregor boxing match promptly went viral Wednesday and alleged that police handcuffed him and threatened to shoot his “fucking head off” in part because he was Black. It also underscored why Bennett was already a willing participant in Kaepernick’s protest well before the arrest.
The arrest never led to any charges after an admitted case of mistaken identity, but it did prompt Bennett’s team to strongly condemn it.
“What happened with Michael is a classic illustration of the reality of inequality demonstrated daily,” Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. “May this incident inspire all of us to respond with compassion when inequalities are brought to light, and allow us to have the courage to stand for change.”
Carroll’s latter sentiment fell right in line with why Kaepernick said he decided launch his protest. It also stood in stark contrast to the relative silence of NFL teams on why Kaepernick has not been signed yet, showing that Bennett’s arrest could prove to be an important turning point in convincing franchise front offices why shunning the one-time Super Bowl quarterback is problematic for both football and society at large.
With that said, we probably shouldn’t get our collective hopes up for Kaepernick’s triumphant return to the field anytime soon, Goodall seemed to hint on Thursday.
“The idea of who can play, who can’t play, who’s best for our system and not best for our system, are decisions that should be made by those 32 teams,” Goodell said of the same 32 teams that have demonstrated they don’t want anything to do with Kap.