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Kaepernick Seeks NFL Return, Says He's Willing to Accept Backup QB Job to Make It Happen

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland, File

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick said in a podcast published Monday that he hopes to return to the league and is even willing to take on a backup quarterback role if it means he is given another opportunity.

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During an interview on the "I AM ATHLETE" podcast, Kaepernick explained that he believes he will "find a way" back into the league.

"Five years of training behind the scenes," Kaepernick said. "You don't do that if you don't have a passion, and you don't believe you're gonna find a way on that field."

"I know I have to find my way back in. So yeah. If I have to come in as a backup, that’s fine," he continued. "But that’s not where I'm staying. And when I prove that I'm a starter, I want to be able to step on the field as such. I just need that opportunity to walk through the door."

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he began kneeling during the national anthem before games in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. He also sported socks with pigs dressed as cops during one public practice.

When asked on the podcast why he would not be a distraction in NFL locker rooms, Kaepernick said the league now expresses support for the racial issues he has previously advocated for and argued that his activism had helped boost his jersey sales his last year in the league.

"You have 'End Racism' in the back of your end zone," he said. "You have 'Black Lives Matter' on your helmet. Everything I've said should be in alignment with what you're saying publicly. It's a $16 billion business. When I first took a knee, my jersey went to No. 1. When I did the deal with Nike, their value increased by $6 billion. Six billion. With a B."

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"So if you're talking about the business side, it shows beneficial. If you're talking about the playing side, come in, [and] let me compete. You can evaluate me from there," Kaepernick continued. "The NFL is supposed to be a meritocracy. Come in, let me compete. If I'm not good enough, get rid of me. But let me come in and show you."

Kaepernick also claimed that his former coaches during his tenure on the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly, each said he "made the locker room better."

"That 2016 season, my last year, my teammates voted me the most courageous and inspirational player," he said. "So, when you're talking about the people that are actually in the building, that has never come out that I've been a distraction. It's never come out that I've been an issue for the people I've played with."

Earlier this month, Kaepernick was invited to a throwing audition for NFL scouts at the University of Michigan's spring game. Harbaugh is the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.

Kaepernick participated in several throwing drills with Michigan players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft during a 15-minute session at the spring game's halftime.

The former quarterback previously had a workout in 2019 for NFL scouts in the hopes of receiving another shot at the league but the tryout failed to land him an NFL contract.

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He explained Monday that no team has hosted him for an opportunity to return to the NFL since his departure from the league following the 2016 season.

"No teams brought me in for a workout," Kaepernick said. "No team has brought me in for an opportunity. I had the one meeting with Seattle in 2017. And out of that, [head coach] Pete Carroll said, 'Hey, he's a starter; we have a starter.' And things moved on from there, but they don't have a starter right now."

Kaepernick, 34, threw for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns over his six-year career with the 49ers. He also threw 30 interceptions during that timespan. As San Francisco's starting quarterback for its 2013 playoff run, Kaepernick led the team to Super Bowl XLVII.

"I've been to the Super Bowl," Kaepernick said, adding, "I need to finish that."

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