The XFL spoke to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick more than a year ago about playing in the reincarnated football league but abandoned any thoughts of signing him when presented with his “exorbitant” salary demands, league commissioner Oliver Luck told NPR.
“I’m saying that we spoke with his representative, and the salary requirements that were broached in that conversation were exorbitant and certainly out of our range,” Luck said in seven-minute interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, heard on its show “All Things Considered” and posted to its website on Feb. 8.
The reborn eight-team XFL, an updated version of the league that played one season in 2001 as a joint venture between WWE and NBC, staged its first week of games this past weekend, two on Saturday and another pair on Sunday.
The games averaged slightly more than 17,000 fans.
Kaepernick, 32, played six seasons in the NFL but hasn’t played a down since 2016. It was during the 2016 preseason that Kaepernick sat during the national anthem, telling reporters after the game that he “wouldn’t stand up” and “show pride” for a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.”
XFL spoke to Kaepernick, rejected ‘exhorbitant’ salary demands
He later changed his stance to kneeling, a practice that was followed by others across the league. The resultant backlash to Kaepernick’s protest contributed to an 8 percent decline in TV viewership across the league, according to surveys.
Kaepernick went 1-10 as a starter in 2016 and new coach Kyle Shanahan was brought in. He planned to implement an offensive scheme he felt Kaepernick would not fit. After being advised the 49ers intended to release him, Kaepernick opted for free agency.
Luck wouldn’t say if Kaepernick lowered his salary demands whether the XFL would reconsider him.
“I don’t know,” Luck said. “I don’t know what kind of shape, you know, Colin is in. And, you know, we haven’t followed that because obviously, again, we want the best players who are interested in playing in our league. That’s, you know, pretty much a requisite for our job.”
XFL players reportedly earn about $55,000 a season.
Kapernick made $40 million in his six seasons in the NFL.
He filed a grievance against the NFL in the fall of 2017 claiming that the teams has conspired to keep him out of the league because of his political statements and positions. He settled with the NFL in a confidential agreement in 2019.