As ESPN notes, all 32 NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason programs, and Kaepernick remains unsigned, fueling speculation that he is being ostracized for being pro-black and for his national anthem protests in 2016.
Speaking at a “Rams All-Access” event in Los Angeles, Goodell argued that teams passing on Kaepernick were making a football decision and that the choice is not related to the quarterback’s social injustice protests.
“All [teams] want to get better. And if they see an opportunity to get better as a football team, they’re going to do it,” Goodell said, via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN. “They’re going to do whatever it takes to make their football team better. So those are football decisions. They’re made all the time. I believe that if a football team feels that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, is going to improve that team, they’re going to do it.”
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Goodell was asked about comments made by New York Giants owner John Mara that would seem to contradict his argument.
In late May, Mara told TheMMQB.com that he and his team heard from fans who would be angry if Kaepernick were added to its roster. Said Mara: “All my years in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue. ‘If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”
“It did spark conversation, which I think is a part of what Colin Kaepernick intended to do,” Goodell said in response to Mara’s comment. “I don’t think that’s going to affect people from saying, ‘I’m going to do what’s in the best interest of my football team and give my team the best chance to win,’ because that’s what every team wants to do.”
Goodell was also reserved in his response about whether he’d like to see Kaepernick land a job.
“I don’t get involved in personnel decisions with the clubs,” he said. “Those are decisions that the 32 clubs are going to have to make individually. They’re going to give whatever player they think can help them win that opportunity. And I think that’s what’s great about the NFL is that we’re a meritocracy, and you earn your opportunities and you get to keep your opportunities on the way you perform, ultimately. That’s what the NFL is about. I think that’s why fans love the game. People go out and they earn those opportunities, and it’s a competitive league, which is great for us.”
Meanwhile, many players have spoken of their belief that Kaepernick IS being blackballed, and as msn.com notes, Goodell “would likely argue that he’s not supposed to be influential with regard to roster construction.”