Ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still struggling to find work as a football star after his botched return to the NFL.
Earlier this year, the NFL extended a private workout to ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick that ended in disaster when he refused to sign the terms of their qualifying agreement, which some described as unfair, and instead held his workout at a local high school venue more than an hour away. Kaepernick was recently in talks with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck about the possibility of a return to football in that league, but Luck revealed in a recent interview with NPR that Kaepernick’s salary demands were too high for that to be possible.
“We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know,” said Luck of the XFL, the WWE’s offshoot football league that is obviously dwarfed competitively and financially by the NFL. “We’re a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent…we spoke with his representative and the salary requirements that were broached in that conversation were exorbitant and certainly out of our range.”
Top-earning quarterbacks in the XFL typically earn up to $500,000 a year. Kaepernick’s team was reported to have asked for $20 million.
Interestingly, the XFL’s official “Star-Spangled Banner” policy is that players must stand for the anthem, which is noticeably stricter than the NFL’s official policy, which merely “encourages but does not require it.”
Luck’s interview signals the return of the XFL, which was retired in 2001 after lasting only one season. WWE first launched the league in an attempt to pick up football fans who were hungry for more games after the official NFL and college seasons had ended, but reception was overwhelmingly negative and the league was cancelled later that year. The 2001 XFL launch hemorrhaged over $70 million dollars from the WWE in the single season that it ran and was ranked 3rd on TV Guide’s “Worst TV Shows of All-Time.”
But Luck remains optimistic about the XFL’s future and thinks significant enough changes have been made to the league to make it a viable reality. “I think there are three things. One is our founder, Vince. He’s got the resources and has given us because of those resources a long time to plan. The second one is all of our games are going to be either on Fox or ESPN or ABC. So no other league has ever started with the visibility that these two media companies will give us. And the third thing is the game has really been elevated, and as a result, the players that are available to us – sort of the 500 best players in the country not under contract to another professional football league – these guys are good.”
If the XFL is able to muster up enough talented players to rival the quality of NFL play, football fans would of course be watching. Whether that momentum would last long enough to carry them into seasons beyond is another question. Either way, it looks like Kaepernick won’t be along for the ride in either of them.
*All pictures courtesy of Instagram.