(KPIX)- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell now says that he wishes that the league had “listened earlier” to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick about the issues of racial injustice and police brutality. Goodell sat down with Emmanuel Acho for Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man and Acho asked him how he would apologize to Kaepernick.

“Well the first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” said Goodell. “We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did.”

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Goodell told Acho that he now better understands the reasons behind Kaepernick’s protests and that he is frustrated when people misunderstand or willfully misrepresent the reasons for the protests.

“It is not about the flag,” said Goodell. “These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal. They’re not against our military. In fact many of those guys were in the military and they’re a military family.

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Kaepernick, who drew the ire of many by taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and call for social justice, has not played in the league since his protest. He filed a grievance against the league alleging that owners had colluded to keep him out of the league which eventually was settled.

Goodell and other members of the league office have spoken out in recent months calling for teams to give the veteran quarterback a shot. Nothing has materialized.

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Kaepernick and the league were in talks to hold a try out for the teams last November before some issues over the terms of the try out led to those discussions breaking down. Kaepernick held his own try out in Georgia that was attended by representatives from several teams but no deals came out of it.