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own­ers. Last sea­son, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at­tacked the league for not pe­nal­iz­ing play­ers who did not stand for the an­them. Dur­ing May, the league tight­ened its pol­icy to force play­ers to stand for the an­them, in­stead of just sug­gest­ing they stand.

Since he be­came a free agent in March 2017, Kaeper­nick has not been in­vited to work out for a team or been of­fered a con­tract. Some team of­fi­cials qui­etly have sug­gested Kaeper­nick’s best years were be­hind him, but oth­ers said they did not want to sign him to play as a backup. Kaeper­nick, 30, played six years with the San Fran­cisco 49ers and led them to the Su­per Bowl in his sec­ond sea­son.

John El­way, the for­mer Denver Bron­cos quar­ter­back who now is gen­eral man­ager of the team, mud­died the waters fur­ther when he told the NFL Net­work that he did not sign Kaeper­nick be­cause the player had once been of­fered a con­tract and turned it down.

El­way, though, did not say he of­fered Kaeper­nick a con­tract dur­ing 2016, when he was set to re­ceive $12 mil­lion from the 49ers, and months be­fore he first protested. Kaeper­nick said no be­cause he would have had to take a pay cut to join the Bron­cos. El­way said he did not sign Kaeper­nick when he be­came a free agent the fol­low­ing year even though he might have ac­cepted far less than $12 mil­lion to play in Denver.

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