Former NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart shared a column on CNN titled, “Now is the moment to sign Colin Kaepernick.”
Lockhart was the primary spokesperson for the league during Colin Kaepernick’s protest, which started in 2016 and heated up in 2017 (Lockhart would leave the NFL in 2018). In his column, he shared what many already knew, which is that Kaepernick wasn’t signed because he was viewed as “controversial.”
No teams wanted to sign a player — even one as talented as Kaepernick — whom they saw as controversial, and, therefore, bad for business. …
What didn’t happen in this time of progress was a new team for Colin Kaepernick. He worked out with several, but no one wanted to sign someone with his obvious talents, even if the consensus was that he’d be a high-quality backup. And football insiders were clear he had more talent than many of the backups in the league. Kaepernick was not blocked because the league wanted to punish him for setting off the protests. In fact, just the opposite is true. The commissioner and several other league executives spent a lot of effort prodding and pushing owners to sign him.
Despite Lockhart claiming Kaepernick “worked out with several” teams, there’s been nothing to support that. In fact, the the opposite has taken place.
In October 2019, Kaepernick’s agent Jeff Nalley released a “fact sheet” to dispel some of the narratives around Kaepernick. One of the questions on his fact sheet asked, “Has Colin ever had a workout with an NFL team?” The answer: “No, not a single team has brought Colin in for a workout.” The Seahawks briefly brought Kaepernick in for a visit, but did not work him out.
Overall, though, Lockhart’s main point seemed truthful, and obvious. NFL owners were scared of signing Kaepernick.
But for many owners it always came back to the same thing. Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business. An executive from one team that considered signing Kaepernick told me the team projected losing 20% of their season ticket holders if they did. That was a business risk no team was willing to take, whether the owner was a Trump supporter or a bleeding-heart liberal (yes, those do exist). As bad of an image problem it presented for the league and the game, no owner was willing to put the business at risk over this issue.
It’d be interesting to learn more about that projection. Because while the signing would obviously upset some, there were likely others who would have ended up supporting the team because of the signing. Shortly after Kaepernick’s protest, his jersey sales spiked into becoming the top seller.
And while all of Lockhart’s commentary is mostly information we already knew, it is interesting to see someone from within the NFL offices just admit to it. It would have been nice if these comments were made three years earlier, though.
Source: Read Full Article