Kaepernick, 32, has not played since the 2016 season, when as a member of the San Francisco 49ers he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
In a conversation with Mike Greenberg for ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special, Goodell said it would be up to a team to sign Kaepernick and said he welcomes Kaepernick’s voice on discussions of social issues.
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s gonna take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.
“If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities. We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody’s welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time.
“But I hope we’re at a point now where everybody’s committed to making long-term, sustainable change.”
Earlier this month, Goodell released a video apologizing on behalf of the NFL for not doing a better job of listening to players’ concerns on racial inequality. Afterward, he was criticized for not mentioning Kaepernick by name.
In Monday’s interview, he praised Kaepernick and others for raising issues such as racism and injustice.
“What they were talking about and what they were protesting and what they were trying to bring attention to was playing out right in front of us — and tragically,” Goodell said of why the NFL chose to speak up. “And so all of us saw that, and it was difficult for all of us. And so that was an important point for all of us.”
NBC Sports reportes Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been on an NFL roster in over three years, but he’s preparing as if that will change soon.
The former 49ers quarterback is “training every day — busting his a– as if he’ll be on an NFL roster in 2020,” TMZ Sports reported Monday, citing sources.
Another source close to Kaepernick told TMZ Sports that he’s “in the best shape of his life.”
Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract on March 3, 2017, and has been a free agent ever since.
In 2016, Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to racial and social injustices, and police brutality.
None of the other teams in NFL signed Kaepernick, and as former NFL executive Joe Lockhart wrote on CNN.com last week, one team official said they feared losing 20 percent of their season-ticket holders if they signed him.
But the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody has brought new attention to Kaepernick’s 2016 protests.
Kaepernick worked out last year at an Atlanta area high school for a limited number of NFL teams, but he didn’t receive a contract.
If Kaepernick is going to get another chance to play in the NFL, he’s making sure he’s ready for the opportunity.