What’s Behind Trump’s Claim of Support For Kaepernick’s NFL Return?

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[Colin Kaepernick]
Nearly three years after Trump used Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem as dry tinder to fire up his base, the president said on Wednesday that he “absolutely” believes Kaepernick deserves another chance in the NFL.
Photo: YouTube

What trickery is Donald Trump up to saying Colin Kaepernick should get another chance to play in the NFL?

President Trump has endorsed Colin Kaepernick’s return to the NFL.

Yes, you read that right. Nearly three years after Trump used Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem as dry tinder to fire up his base, the president said on Wednesday that he “absolutely” believes Kaepernick deserves another chance in the NFL.

“I would love to see him get another shot,” Trump said, in response to a question about Kaepernick from Sinclair’s Scott Thuman. “Obviously he has to play well. If he can’t play well, I think it would be very unfair.”

And thus we enter yet another Rorschach moment for this president. How you viewed him prior to today is how you’re going to view his statement on Kaepernick, a man whom Trump once, in effect, called a “son of a bitch.”

In other words, choose your own interpretation of Trump’s statement backing Kaepernick:

- Trump favors meritocracy. You’ll note that the president said “If he deserves it, he should [get another chance,] if he has the playing ability.” It’s a simple, straightforward enough statement, one that Trump has made before.

“Frankly, I’d love to see Kaepernick come in if he’s good enough,” Trump said last August. “But I don’t want to see him come in if somebody thinks it’s a good PR move. If he’s good enough, he will be in.”

-Trump sees the way the wind’s blowing. The NFL has moved definitively in Kaepernick’s direction. Roger Goodell has encouraged teams to sign Kap, while a recent Yahoo/YouGov poll shows a majority of Americans now support a player’s right to protest. Trump, like most politicians, stuck his finger up, felt the breeze, and moved in that direction.

- Trump used Kaepernick before for one purpose, and he’s using him now for another. There's a needle to be threaded here, between angering his base and corralling enough votes to win in November. By sticking with the "good enough" line, Trump supports Kap's right to play on merit without supporting his chosen form of protest.

It’s a ploy that gives him all kinds of wiggle room in every direction, and it won’t be a surprise if he says the complete opposite two months from now.

What’s interesting is that, for as much as Trump criticized Kaepernick, it’s clear the president has paid attention to the arc of Kaepernick’s career. “He was terrific in his rookie year,” Trump said Wednesday. “I think he was very good in his second year, and then something happened so his playing wasn’t up to snuff.”

That’s pretty close to exactly on point. Technically, Kaepernick played three games his rookie season, backing up Alex Smith, but in 2012, his first full season at quarterback, he led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. The next year, he led them back to the NFC championship. But the 49ers then fell off a cliff, stumbling under head coaches Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly and going five straight seasons without reaching the playoffs until last year’s Super Bowl run.

It was in the midst of that dry stretch that Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism--the exact same forces now driving nationwide protests.

For the rest of this Yahoo sports story log on to: https://sports.yahoo.com/is-president-trump-playing-politics-in-supporti...

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