Colin Kaepernick is reportedly itching to get back on the gridiron after having been sidelined the last three seasons.
The civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer has brought down "unprecedented public pressure" to get Kaepernick back on an NFL roster, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Some have wondered whether the protests in the wake of Floyd's death will propel Kaepernick further into activism and leading social justice movements. But Florio says that is not the case.
"Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Kaepernick is in great shape, and he wants to play," Florio writes. "And he is 'more motivated to play than ever' to the NFL."
Kaepernick last played in 2016, the year he famously began kneeling in protest of police brutality. He went unsigned as a free agent the following offseason after he opted out of his contract, fueling a years-long controversy over why a player who looked like one of the league's brightest young stars only a couple years earlier was now unemployed.
President Trump, who was critical of the protests during the 2016 campaign, further inflamed the situation with incendiary rhetoric once he was in the White House.
Late last year, the NFL and Kaepernick tried to arrange a workout where teams could check him out. But the sides couldn't agree on a location for the showcase, and Kaepernick ended up hosting the workout on his own. Many accused the league of setting up the workout as a PR stunt.
After years of ignoring or dismissing the protests, the NFL has changed course in the face of the massive social unrest sparked by Floyd's death. Commissioner Roger Goodell, under overwhelming public pressure, recently apologized for the league's response to the grievances of black players, although he did not mention Kaepernick specifically.
"We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People," Goodell said. "We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter."