Many were quick to point out that Goodell danced around the context of the question, which was about how history would look upon what appears as the league’s punishment of Kaepernick for his civil rights protest.
“I’ve said it many times privately, publicly that our clubs are the ones that make decisions on players that they want to have on their roster,” the commissioner said Wednesday at his annual Super Bowl news conference.
He continued: “They want to win, and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club.”
Kaepernick, who last played with the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 season, ignited controversy when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism in the criminal justice system. Other African-American players soon joined in the demonstrations.
The players’ protest has drawn the ire of the U.S. president and fans who object to athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
Despite his proven abilities on the field, NFL owners have declined to sign him—leading many to believe that Kaepernick has been unfairly blackballed by the league.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners. The document accuses the NFL and its owners of colluding “to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”
While the NFL has been busy giving Kaepernick the cold shoulder, the snubbed quarterback has received international praise for his crusade against racial injustice.
Amnesty International, a global human rights organization, awarded Kaepernick it 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Award. He accepted the prize on at a ceremony in the Netherlands. The award recognizes individuals who have “promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their lives and by example.” Kaepernick joins an elite circle that includes previous winners Nelson Mandela and Harry Belafonte.
Back here in the United States, Nike named Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary campaign of its iconic “Just Do It” motto in September 2018. There were protests from Trump worshipers with some even burning Nike gear they already bought.
Here’s what some people had to say about Goodell’s remarks.