‘That’s a no-brainer’: Steve Kerr says Colin Kaepernick is being ‘blackballed’ by NFL


Steve Kerr continues to be outspoken about sports in the Trump era. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Steve Kerr, the Golden State Warriors coach who has been outspoken in his criticism of President Trump, said he believes it’s a “no brainer” that Colin Kaepernick “is being blackballed” by NFL teams, even those desperate for a quarterback, because of his 2016 national anthem demonstrations.

Oh, he is being blackballed. That’s a no-brainer,” Kerr told Dan Pfeiffer on the “Pod Save America” podcast this week. “All you have to do is read the transactions every day, when you see the quarterbacks who are getting hired. He’s way better than any of them.”

Kaepernick has been a free agent since parting with the San Francisco 49ers in March and teams have shown little interest in him, even as injuries have struck. Kerr believes that there are a number of reasons, including the dreaded “distraction” excuse, why Kaepernick isn’t back in the league.

“The NFL has a different fan base than the NBA does. The NBA is more urban, [the] NFL is more conservative, and I think a lot of the NFL fans are truly angry at Kaepernick, and I think owners are worried what it’s going to do to business. I think there is a legitimate concern, too, about the distraction that it’s going to create,” he said. “I’m not justifying teams not signing him but I will acknowledge — when you think about Tim Tebow, for example. Tebow was like this lightning rod. Whether you liked him or didn’t like him, if he went to a team, that was going to be the story every single day. That’s now Kaepernick.

“If you are a general manager — and again, take social concern out of it, take your beliefs out of it, if you’re just saying we’re trying to be a football team and win football games — if you’re a general manager, you do have to worry about the circus that would erupt if you signed Kaepernick. Again, that’s not justifying not signing him, but it’s understanding what you’re getting into.”

Kerr also addressed Trump’s retraction of an invitation to visit the White House last month, which came the day after Stephen Curry had opened training camp by saying that the team would convene to decide whether to go when it visits Washington in February to play the Wizards. That night, Trump made the speech in which he called for any “son of a bitch” who didn’t stand for the anthem to be fired and Curry’s comment caused him to retract the invitation. It was, Kerr admits, a surreal 24 hours.

“We had been debating for a couple months what we would do in terms of — would we visit the White House or not? If we did, how would we want it to unfold?” Kerr said in an interview with Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama administration adviser, that aired on Monday’s Pod Save America podcast. “There had been some back-channel communication between the White House and our organization and so we were sorting through it all, but before we could get to anything, the president beat us to the punch, so to speak. Not really that surprising that he would say that or he would lash out because that’s kind of his way.

“I don’t think we would have gone and I think he knew that. Several of us had been very critical of the president in the past year, and it would have been awkward, for sure. I don’t think we would have gone, but we were very interested in possibly going and not making it a photo op, the way these things usually are, but maybe going and actually having a discussion about the things that we felt strongly about. But that’s kind of far-fetched.”

Instead, the team hopes to do something “that has an impact.” Last year, players visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “We’ve been invited by various members of Congress to visit, so maybe we can do something like that,” Kerr said. “We’ve talked about doing what we usually do in D.C., which is visiting one of the many museums or historical sites.”

Kerr, like San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, has been at the forefront of sports figures who question Trump’s fitness for office. In a Sports Illustrated interview last spring, Kerr spoke of former coach Boy Knight, a Trump supporter, and the characteristics he shares with the president.

“My personal opinion is Bobby Knight’s way smarter than Donald Trump,” Kerr said then. “Bobby Knight was brilliant in a lot of ways. So there was some real foundation in terms of knowing and coaching the game. But he was a bully, so … I think being a bully doesn’t work today, or at least it doesn’t work coaching. The modern coach has to be much more communicative, flexible, aware, conscientious, all those things.

“Frankly, I think it’s why Trump couldn’t be more ill-suited to be president, because he’s a blowhard. You don’t see some of the qualities you talk about, the resilience, the ability to communicate, the compbadion. None of that. But in the old days, a lot of great coaches who maybe didn’t have those, there was still a fiber there, whatever it was. To be a great leader, there have to be some qualities in there.

“Has anyone ever thought that Donald Trump was a great leader?”

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