“I believe in Colin Kaepernick,” said Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis last night in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “He deserves every chance in the world to become a quarterback in the National Football League. I still stand by it. If our coaches and general manager want to bring him in or want him to be the quarterback on this team, I would welcome him with open arms.”
Kaepernick played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers before being essentially blacklisted by the NFL for taking a knee in during the national anthem in 2016 to protest racism and police violence. Kaepernick became a free agent after the 2016 season and went unsigned.
In 2017, he filed a grievance against the NFL and its team owners. The legal filing accused the parties of colluding to keep Kaepernick out of the league. He reached a confidential settlement with the NFL in 2019 and subsequently withdrew the lawsuit. Kaepernick has since said he’d be willing to become a backup quarterback in the league, but remains unsigned.
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The Raiders have long been a franchise willing to buck the status quo. They have also been long committed to their current quarterback Derek Carr, who just signed a three-year, $121.5 contract extension that runs through 2025. The Raiders have potential backup candidates in Nick Mullens and Garrett Gilbert, each of whom has less experience than Kaepernick.
According to Davis, any decision on the former 49ers starter will fall to the Raiders’ new GM and its new head coach, Josh McDaniels.
“I think Colin is a very misunderstood human being,” Davis said. “I’ve gotten a chance to talk to him. I never really knew Colin, and I didn’t understand him. I didn’t understand the kneeling, what that meant initially. Over time, I have learned a little bit more about it.
“I understand [now] where he was coming from. He’s got a message for society as a whole.”
Davis compared Kaepernick to Tommie Smith, whom he called a friend. Smith, who is Black, set the 200-meter record and won gold in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, but was excommunicated from the Games after he and bronze medalist John Carlos offered the Black power salute on the podium in a protest against racial oppression.
“In the same vein, Colin Kaepernick has sacrificed a lot of the things that he could have been doing in his life to get a message across about police violence and equity and inclusion in America,” said Davis. “I stand by that.”
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