Ex-NFL spokesperson calls for Vikings to sign Kaepernick
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Former NFL spokesperson and ex-White House press secretary Joe Lockhart called for the Minnesota Vikings to end Colin Kaepernick's time outside the league in a Saturday column for CNN.

"The situation in Minnesota right now offers a unique opportunity to deal with the symbols of racial injustice," wrote Lockhart. "As a small but important step, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings, Zygi and Mark Wilf, can send a strong message by offering Colin Kaepernick a contract to play with the Vikings. Bring him into camp, treat him like any of the other players given a chance to play the game they love."

In the piece, Lockhart - who was the league's primary spokesperson during the anthem controversy in 2016-17 - argued that it was the decision of teams not to sign Kaepernick over fears it would hurt them financially, despite apparent encouragement from commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office.

"Kaepernick was not blocked because the league wanted to punish him for setting off the protests," wrote Lockhart.

However, after watching riots in Minnesota and across America protesting racial inequality and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Lockhart now believes teams and the league failed the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

"Though Kaepernick didn't get his job back, I thought we had all done a righteous job, considering," wrote Lockhart. "I was wrong. I think the teams were wrong for not signing him. Watching what's going on in Minnesota, I understand how badly wrong we were."

Floyd died Monday after a white Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down by kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes during an arrest. Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Friday after three nights of protests in the city.

The Vikings have an entrenched starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins. But their primary backup, Sean Mannion, has appeared in 13 games in five seasons and has thrown 74 career passes.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and owns the 24th-highest career passer rating in NFL history.

The NFL responded to Lockhart's column in a statement to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

"Colin is a free agent," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so."

Kaepernick kick-started protests in the NFL against police brutality and racial injustice in 2016 by at first sitting and then kneeling during the U.S. national anthem. The quarterback opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017 after the club told him he would be released.

Kaepernick has been out of the league ever since.

But protests during the anthem still dominated the 2017 season even without Kaepernick in the NFL, with all 32 teams coming together to protest after President Donald Trump called for kneeling players to be fired in September 2017.

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Ex-NFL spokesperson calls for Vikings to sign Kaepernick
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