WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says that Colin Kaepernick should get another chance to play in the NFL if he can play well, but he reiterated that he doesn’t want to see people kneel during the national anthem.
In an interview at the White House Wednesday with Sinclair Broadcast Group’s WJLA, Trump was asked whether Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who famously began kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem, deserves another shot.
"If he deserves it, he should. If he has the playing ability," said Trump, who added that Kaepernick’s performance on the field previously "wasn’t up to snuff."
"I would love to see him get another shot but obviously he has to be able to play well," Trump continued. "If he can't play well, I think that would be very unfair."
The president, however, made clear that he still thinks kneeling during the national anthem or kneeling in front of the American flag is disrespectful. Kaepernick said that he knelt down to protest “systematic oppression” and police brutality. He has been unsigned since he became a free agent after the 2016 season.
"I don’t want to kneel, I don’t want to see people kneel for the national anthem, for the American flag," he said to WJLA. "You stand, be proud, put your hand on your heart, salute if you’d like to do that. But you have to show respect. There are plenty of places and plenty of things you can protest."
Earlier this week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that he would support a team that’s interested in signing Kaepernick. Goodell also recently said in a video statement that the NFL didn’t handle players’ activism properly, saying, "We were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."
In 2017, Trump lashed out at NFL players who knelt down during the national anthem before their games kicked off, calling them "sons of bitches" and said that NFL players who don't stand during the anthem should be fired.