As NFL players and other observers call for quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s return to the league after a three-season absence, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll provided some evidence Thursday that there might be a team interested in bringing that about.

San Francisco 49ers players Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, N.C., in September 2016. Associated Press

Carroll, whose team previously explored the possibility of signing Kaepernick, said during a video conference with reporters that he had been asked by a representative of another team about Kaepernick in a phone conversation Thursday.

“After all of the time, the years that have passed, I never received a phone call about him,” Carroll said during Thursday’s video conference, later posted to the Seahawks’ Twitter account. “I never talked to another head coach about it. I never talked to anybody about it until today. I got a phone call today. I’m not gonna tell you who it was. I got a phone call today asking and inquiring about the situation. So I know somebody’s interested. So we’ll see what happens with that.

“The irony of that was crazy because I knew I was coming on this news conference and you guys were going to ask me a million questions about this today.”

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season when, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, he refused to stand for the national anthem — first sitting and later kneeling during it — to bring attention to racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans.

Kaepernick visited the Seahawks in May 2017 and the team reconsidered him in 2018 as a potential backup to starter Russell Wilson. Carroll expressed regret Thursday about not signing Kaepernick.

“The reason it wasn’t the right fit is because I held him in such high regard,” said Carroll, who spoke at length on the topic during the video conference. “I didn’t see him as a backup quarterback and I didn’t want to put him in that situation with Russ. I just didn’t feel like it fit right. That’s the way I felt about it. I just wish it would happen and I wish we would have been part of it when the time was available.”

Carroll said that Kaepernick was “right on point” with the message of his protests, adding “that’s so obvious now.” He did not entirely rule out the possibility of the Seahawks signing Kaepernick but said the team is pleased with its current quarterback arrangement, with Geno Smith backing up Wilson. But he said he’s hopeful that Kaepernick will receive another NFL opportunity.

“I hope he’s going to get a chance to do that because he really deserves to be playing,” Carroll said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video released last week that the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” and now will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” The league released Goodell’s video on the day after a group of prominent NFL players, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, released a video addressing the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis and called on the league to take action.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said during Floyd’s funeral Tuesday in Houston that the NFL’s apology is insufficient as long as Kaepernick remains unsigned. New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a televised interview that the league must apologize to Kaepernick or he must be signed by a team. Seahawks running back Carlos Hyde, a former 49ers teammate of Kaepernick, told reporters that a team signing Kaepernick would show the NFL’s sincerity.

Kaepernick worked out in front of representatives of a modest number of NFL teams at an Atlanta-area school last year after a workout arranged by the league at the Falcons’ training facility, with more teams scheduled to attend, unraveled because of disagreements between Kaepernick’s representatives and the NFL.

Earlier last year, Kaepernick reached a settlement of his collusion grievance accusing the league and teams of conspiring improperly to keep him out of the sport.

President Donald Trump recently has renewed his criticisms of NFL players protesting during the anthem. Trump and some fans have characterized those protests as unpatriotic. Players have said the protests are not intended to be disrespectful of the flag, country or military.

On Thursday, the NFL announced it was expanding its social justice initiatives by pledging $250 million over 10 years to programs that address racial injustice. The league would be willing to work with Kaepernick in determining how to use those funds, according to a person familiar with the NFL’s planning. Goodell informed league employees Friday that the NFL’s offices will be closed June 19 in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

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