CEO of the AAF, Charlie Ebersol, stops by the USA TODAY studio to discuss the start of the new football league.
A person with knowledge of the conversation tells The Associated Press that the new Alliance of American Football spoke with Colin Kaepernick during its development about joining the league.
But Kaepernick wanted $20 million or more to consider playing with the league that had its debut last weekend.
AAF co-founder Bill Polian told The Athletic that league CEO Charlie Ebersol and Kaepernick’s representatives talked last summer.
“I don’t know what transpired, but he’s obviously not playing,” Polian told The Athletic.
Neither Kaepernick nor his representatives have acknowledged discussions with the AAF. The AAF had similar talks with other NFL free-agent players, per The Athletic.
The Alliance says its mission is to provide opportunities for players not in the NFL to continue their careers, with a possibility they could entice NFL teams to sign them once the AAF season concludes at the end of April. The league also approached Tim Tebow, who said he wanted to continue pursuing his baseball career. Tebow currently is in the New York Mets’ spring training camp.
Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, helped start a wave of protests about social and racial injustice in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem at games. He has not played the last two seasons and has brought a lawsuit against the NFL for collusion to keep him out of the league.
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He also fits the description for potential Alliance players, though his contract demands don’t fit with the league’s financial structure. After all, the AAF is entering its second weekend.
Players earn $225,000 over three years in the Alliance, but they also are free beginning in May to pursue NFL careers. Should they not catch on there, they are obligated to return to the AAF next season.
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More than 80 percent of Alliance players spent some time in an NFL camp or on a roster. None is a star; the rare NFL first-round draft pick in the AAF is Birmingham running back Trent Richardson, who flamed out with the Browns and Colts, but Polian, a Pro Football Hall of Fame executive, says could be “fast approaching” stardom in the Alliance after his strong debut.
It’s uncertain if Kaepernick ever will play football again, but at his asking price, the only place would be the NFL.
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