Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback whose national anthem protests divided opinion in the US, says he “wants in” on rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ plans to take over the Carolina Panthers.
Combs wants to be the NFL’s first African-American majority owner and said his first task if successful would be to hire free agent Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who has been without a team since leaving the San Francisco 49ers in March, responded by saying he was keen on being part of the ownership group, adding: “Let’s make it happen!”
Basketball star Stephen Curry, twice voted the most valuable player in the NBA, has also expressed his desire to join forces with Combs, who asked his social media followers to “spread the word” and said it was “time for diversity” in the sport.
Despite not featuring in the NFL this season, Kaepernick remains a high-profile figure in the US and was among the 10 finalists for Time magazine’s Person of the Year accolade.
The 30-year-old filed a grievance against NFL team owners in October saying he believes they are conspiring not to hire him because of his protests, which were intended to highlight the treatment of black Americans after a series of high-profile police shootings.
His protests, which involved kneeling during the American national anthem before games, won the support of many players from different teams, but the issue has been a divisive one in the sport – critics have included US President Donald Trump.
One of the NFL’s main sponsors, pizza company Papa John’s, even blamed the actions for lower-than-expected sales.
However, Combs said it would be his aim to get Kaepernick on board “immediately”, although the NFC side’s current quarterback Cam Newton is one of the stars of the league.
The Panthers franchise has been put up for sale by owner Jerry Richardson, who is facing allegations of workplace misconduct and is the subject of an NFL investigation.
While declining to comment on the nature of the allegations, the franchise said it was “committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, colour, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally”.
Richardson, 81, is a former NFL player and has been a majority owner of the Charlotte-based team since it began playing in the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1995.