Former NFL executive Joe Lockhart penned a column for CNN on Saturday, saying that teams were wrong for not signing Colin Kaepernick, and that the Minnesota Vikings should ink the controversial quarterback now.
The former NFL spokesman turned CNN contributor responded to the protests and violence happening in Minneapolis in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in police custody earlier this week during an arrest.
Lockhart wrote that nothing challenged the league more while he was an executive VP of communications for the league than Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem, a protest of police brutality against African Americans that Kaepernick started in preseason games of 2016.
Lockhart wrote Saturday that his stance at the time was that league execs “had all done a righteous job” trying to convince team owners to sign Kaepernick.
“I was wrong,” Lockhart wrote Saturday. “I think the teams were wrong for not signing him. Watching what’s going on in Minnesota, I understand how badly wrong we were.”
Lockhart defended the league in the column.
“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,” Lockhart wrote.
“But for many owners it always came back to the same thing. Signing Kaepernick, they thought, was bad for business. …
“That symbol of racial injustice was reinforced every day that Colin sat on the outside of the football world. It may have seemed like a good business decision for the clubs to not sign him, and it certainly wasn’t illegal, but it was wrong.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement Saturday addressing the death of Floyd and the ensuing protests.
“As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL’s commitment and our ongoing efforts,” Goodell wrote, in part.
“There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”
While Goodell was not specific, the man who was responsible for overseeing league statements for two years was very specific Saturday, saying the Vikings should sign Kaepernick.
“It will not solve the problem of blacks and police violence. But it will recognize the problem that Kaepernick powerfully raised, and perhaps show that, with courage, real progress can be made,” Lockhart wrote.
“I hope they will do it. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s something the city — and all of America — needs right now.”
—Field Level Media