A main critique of the revamped XFL is that the league needs big names who will move the needle to keep it around long term. The only issue is at this point, the finances aren’t there to afford said players.
League commissioner Oliver Luck provided some insight as to why someone like Colin Kaepernick won’t suit up for any XFL teams this year. According to Luck, the league looked into signing the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback prior to a return from its 20-year hiatus. Ultimately, the cost wasn’t feasible for the XFL attempting to budget for the future.
“We gave it some thought,” Luck told NPR’s Michael Martin on Saturday. “We have some pretty significant salary restrictions, you know. We’re a start-up league, so we want to make sure that we can be fiscally responsible and fiscally prudent. And the, you know, salary requirements that some folks, you know, shared with us were in our case exorbitant, so we, you know, couldn’t go down that path.”
After speaking with Kaepernick’s representative, Luck called his salary expectations “exorbitant and certainly out of (their) range.”
The XFL pays its players an average salary of $55,000 per 10-game season, with top quarterbacks potentially earning up to $500,000. According to a Sporting News report from 2019, Kaepernick was seeking $20 million to play in the league.
The commissioner also mentioned the league’s standards for its players standing for the national anthem.
“Players have numerous opportunities to express themselves with all the platforms that exist today,” Luck told Martin. “So, you know, standing for the national anthem we believe is a part of their responsibility as players in our league. But we think it’s important to have that — you know, that requirement for our players.”
Kaepernick notoriously decided to kneel for “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racial injustices and police brutality in 2016, and later filed a grievance against the NFL alleging that he was blackballed from the league.
That wouldn’t fly in the XFL, as it has deemed standing for the anthem an important part of its pregame procedure.