Former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said he wanted to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick ahead of the 2017 season.
In an interview with "The Really Big Show" on WKNR AM-850, Jackson described how he wanted to bring Kaepernick to Cleveland following the Browns' 1-15 season in 2016. Instead, the franchise selected quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round of the 2017 draft and went on to finish with an 0-16 record the following season.
"I wanted him," Jackson said. "It just didn’t work out. Obviously, those things do have to work from a finance, draft, whatever all that is. And that wasn’t my decision."
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he first kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. He was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers and spent six years with the team before opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent.
In the interview, Jackson went on to say that he wanted to draft Kaepernick when he was coach of the Raiders in 2011. In addition, Jackson said he always thought Kaepernick "deserved an opportunity" in the NFL.
"He had tremendous success," Jackson said. "He is a guy who has stood for something. I think everybody is seeing exactly where he was coming from … I always thought Colin deserved an opportunity in this league, but he has to want to play. If he really wanted to play, I think he would have a chance again."
Jackson was fired during Cleveland's 2018 season and finished with a 3-36-1 record as head coach of the Browns.
Kaepernick's actions from 2016 have been brought to light once again after George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, was killed under police custody in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 25. Since then, peaceful protests have formed across the country related to police brutality and racial injustice.
On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" on racism and systematic oppression and encouraged all to "speak out and peacefully protest." The message was in response to a video from many NFL stars that called for the league to revise its initial statement.