Out-of-work free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the movement of NFL players protesting by kneeling during national anthem while he was playing for the San Francisco 49ers last year, is expected to be invited to the next meeting between owners and players.
The meeting is scheduled Tuesday in New York, but there is no confirmation whether Kaepernick will attend.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said he expects Kaepernick will be invited, according to ESPN.
“We look forward to him joining the conversation,” Lockhart said on the league’s weekly conference call.
The invitation would be extended by the players, not the league, Lockhart said.
In an Oct. 17 special meeting, 13 current or former players, 11 owners, commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith met in New York to discuss the anthem controversy.
Goodell has not demanded players to stand for the anthem, even though he said in a recent memo he preferred all players to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins invited Kaepernick to the first meeting, but he did not attend.
Kaepernick wears socks depicting cops as pigs. Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)[/caption]Kaepernick, who filed a grievance against the NFL owners on Oct. 15 alleging they colluded to keep him out of the league, hired lawyer Mark Geragos to represent him.
Kaepernick drew national attention when he knelt during the anthem as a protest to denounce police brutality against African-Americans, social injustice and racial inequality. A number of players followed Kaepernick’s lead by taking a knee during the anthem last year and this season.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said to NFL Media in August 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick reportedly said he would stand during the anthem if he got a chance to play in 2017.
President Donald Trump continued his criticism of the NFL last week following the owners meeting with players to discuss the ongoing national anthem protests.
Trump’s position unified more NFL players to protest racial injustice before or during the anthem. He said during a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22 that NFL owners should fire the players who knelt during the anthem.
“We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag,” Trump said to loud applause at the campaign event in Alabama. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!'”
NFL players who have demonstrated during the national anthem have said they are protesting racial inequality, but not the flag or the anthem itself.
The 29-year-old Kaepernick, who wants to continue his NFL career after becoming a free agent in March when he opted out of the final season of his contract with the 49ers, reportedly signed a book deal worth more than $1 million with Random House.
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