Much of the discussion around free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in recent weeks has turned to the Seattle Seahawks, who reportedly canceled a Kaepernick workout last week after he wouldn’t promise to stop kneeling during the national anthem. That report came via “a league source” to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and there are plenty of questions about the exact circumstances around it, but it is clear that the Seahawks did not work out Kaepernick and that they did re-sign Austin Davis and sign Stephen Morris.
However, as per an interview Seattle head coach Pete Carroll gave to 950 KJR’s Dave “Softy” Mahler Thursday, they haven’t definitely decided against Kaepernick. Tacoma News-Tribune Seahawks’ reporter Gregg Bell summarized the key part of the Carroll interview on Twitter:
Pete Carroll on Colin Kaepernick: “We are trying to figure it out…The discussion and the opportunity is still open.” But says he hasn’t talked to him—and that he’s “not going there” about Kaepernick’s anthem protests. #Seahawks
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) April 19, 2018
The full interview can be heard here, with Carroll’s discussion of Kaepernick beginning around the 17:00 mark:
“We’re still battling in all areas, we’re still looking at all our options, the QB thing is important to us. You saw we brought in Stephen Morris the other day and brought Austin back in. We’re trying to figure it out. We just want to work to be as competitive as we can. Whether that factors in or not, we’ll find out, but the discussion and the opportunity is still open, as [GM] John [Schneider] stated. That’s one area that we’re working, there’s a number of them, and it’s really about the competition thing right now, we’re trying to figure out what’s best for us.”
Carroll is then specifically asked if he would decide not to sign Kaepernick if Kaepernick told him he planned to continue to kneel, and he responds “I’m not going there because I haven’t talked to him, I haven’t talked to him yet, so I don’t know anything about where he’s coming from, what his perspective is on this stuff. John’s talked to his representation some, but I haven’t, so I don’t have anything to help you with with that.”
He’s then asked if he wants to get away from protests and “just get back to pure football,” and says “Well, let me say this, we have been deeply involved in the discussion and will continue with our players to be involved and talking about all the issues. Maybe more than other teams, I don’t know, but it’s really important to me that we communicate, and in the last two years, there’s been more opportunity to discuss really important issues about injustice and inequality and areas and ways.”
“I feel very fortunate that we’ve had the chance to talk on the topics so candidly. I do think there’s a then and there’s a now to all this in some regards. The issues are going to continue to be the issues, and we’re not backing off and are going to continue to do everything we can to be supportive and learn and grow, and help this whole effort to try and bring some reconciliation over a long period of time. I would love to be part of helping that if we could.”
“But also, we recognize that there was a time, a time for demonstrations a couple of years ago, our guys really made a big statement by locking arms, I thought it was a beautiful statement at the time, and last year, we thought we’d let that go and let guys do what they want because we had done that. Now this is two years removed, we’re going into year three, I think there’s a different perspective about this now, and there’s a clarity around here that we want to be productive, and be involved, and work to help the situation, and we’re going to continue to work to do that. How that manifests in terms of demonstrations and all that stuff, we’ll find out, but I do feel like there was a then, and some stuff was appropriate then, and it might be different now, and we’ll find out as we move forward.”
Carroll then talks about the team’s decision to stay in the locker room for the anthem against the Titans last September after President Trump’s comments that “son of a bitch” protesting NFL players should be fired, and says “I can’t tell you that it didn’t enter into our ability to focus on game day, but I did think, and I know that talking to their coaches, they were involved in discussions too. I don’t know if they were we were, but there’s only so much focus that you have available when it comes to performance time, in football in particular and other performance arts as well. And if you are divided, you’re divided. You’ve only got so much.”
“And so if you allow your focus to go other places, then you have what you have left. I do think that was a game in particular we played uncharacteristically. …I can’t tell you that we didn’t give up quite a bit in terms of the emotional part of the evening before and just trying to deal with it. It only stands to reason that it’s going to divide some of your focus.” He then adds that they couldn’t avoid the discussion at that time, but “Do I think it took a toll? I think it could have.”
So, while Carroll wouldn’t comment specifically on Kaepernick and on if continued plans to kneel would in fact affect the Seahawks’ decision to bring him in or not, his overall comments definitely seem to indicate a desire to move on from protests. And Schneider’s refusal to answer a similar Kaepernick question can perhaps be read the same way:
Asked point blank if he walked away from hosting Colin Kaepernick on a FA visit because the exiled QB did not give #Seahawks assurance he wouldn't kneel during anthems, as per a natl report last week, GM John Schneider said: "That's what I can't get into."
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) April 20, 2018
Thus, while Carroll’s comments here are certainly notable in the sense of an NFL coach saying there’s still “an opportunity” for Kaepernick, it does seem pretty likely that any such opportunity with the Seahawks would be reduced or non-existent if Kaepernick plans to continue to protest. And that makes it seem likely this “opportunity” probably won’t result in Kaepernick signing with Seattle.