XFL commissioner says Colin Kaepernick wanted too much money to play

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The revitalized XFL was interested in having Colin Kaepernick restart his career with them when the league launched its season this past weekend. But the league’s interest didn’t last long.

Kaepernick’s “exorbitant” salary demands put a quick end to XFL’s pursuit of the ex-49ers quarterback, said commissioner Oliver Luck.

“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 an interview with NPR. “We have some pretty significant salary restrictions. We’re a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent.”

The XFL, who founder Vince McMahon resuscitated after the league’s disastrous one-year existence in 2001, reportedly pays players an average of $55,000 per season. Luck didn’t share what amount Kaepernick’s representatives requested, but perhaps his reported $20 million per year contract demand to play in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football last year gives us an idea of the range.

Luck said the XFL’s talk with Kaepernick’s camp took place over a year ago. The 32-year-old Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 because of his controversial stance of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to bring attention to social injustices, including police brutality.

The pairing of Kaepernick and the XFL also faced another significant hurdle — the league’s insistence on every player standing for the anthem. Luck said the league has no issue with players expressing themselves or their views — except during anthem time.

“Players have numerous opportunities to express themselves with all the platforms that exist today,” said Luck, the father of former Stanford and Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck. “Standing for the national anthem, we believe, is a part of their responsibility as players in our league. But we think it’s important to have that requirement for our players.

“We think it’s important. We think it’s part of what we as a league should do.”

Asked by NPR whether he and the league would be open to re-engaging Kaepernick in discussions if he would be more flexible in his contract demands, Luck didn’t sound optimistic.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That was well over a year ago, so I don’t know what kind of shape Colin is in. We haven’t followed that because obviously, again, we want the best players who are interested in playing in our league. That’s pretty much a requisite for our job.”

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