In an interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg on “The Return to Sports,” Goodell said he’s pushing for an NFL team to sign Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he started kneeling on the sideline at games during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said, according to ESPN. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.”
Recently renewed interest in kneeling has gained traction following the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25 after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities. We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time,” Goodell added.
“But I hope we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change.”
His comments come as Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Thursday that a team was “interested” in signing Kaepernick.
“Someone is interested,” Carroll said, according to Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest.
Goodell released a video earlier this month apologizing on behalf of the NFL for not doing a better job of listening to players’ concerns on racial inequality. He received criticism for not mentioning Kaepernick by name in his video, according to ESPN.
“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he said. “We, at the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.
On Monday, he spoke of why the NFL decided to speak up in regards to those issues.
“What they were talking about and what they were protesting and what they were trying to bring attention to was playing out right in front of us — and tragically,” Goodell added. “And so all of us saw that, and it was difficult for all of us. And so that was an important point for all of us.”
Kaepernick, a second-round draft pick in 2011, led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance the following season.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Daniel Canova contributed to this report