Very unexpectedly, it was announced last week that the league would be holding a workout for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Atlanta, Georgia.
After effectively being blackballed from the league for kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protesting police brutality and racial inequality, Kaepernick was excited by the news. He successfully had his day in court. And now, he would be getting his workout day to show that he still belongs in the league.
At 32 years of age and three years removed from an NFL team, Kaepernick says he is ready to show the world and teams that he has been preparing for this day and that he is ready to play.
“I’ve been ready for three years. I’ve been denied for three years,” said Kaepernick.
Although this workout is out-ot-the-blue; a complete surprise to many within the league, the player’s association and the quarterback himself—it is long overdue.
Still the timing of it all seemed more like pacification than satisfaction.
Some are calling it a PR move by the league, possibly to thwart off new legal action. Some are speculating that Jay-Z had a hand in pushing the league to make this move, since his comments “we’ve moved past kneeling” didn’t go over so well with his fanbase after inking a deal with the NFL just before the season started. Not to mention, a Saturday workout versus a Tuesday workout when teams and decision makers would be off and more readily able to attend (24 hours prior to a game day)—is not optimal. The NFL insisted on Saturday.
Well, take it or leave it. It is the opportunity that the quarterback has been hoping for since hitting the free-agency market back in 2016.
Kaepernick took it, but things didn’t quite go as proposed.
The who, what, when, where and the why were set.
Coaches Hue Jackson and Joe Philbin were set to oversee Kaepernick’s workout to showcase his talents. The date, the time and the place were set for Saturday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. at the Atlanta Falcons training facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
But before the session would commence, both parties tried to come to terms on some of the details.
First, Kaepernick and his team wanted an open workout—citing they wanted a transparent process. The NFL had declined to allow media and cameras into the workout. Secondly, they could not agree on the language of the liability waiver that needed to be in place prior to any workouts taking place. The NFL would not budge, citing that it is the standard waiver used for free-agent tryouts.
These sticking points facilitated a change by Kaepernick’s team at the last minute to make the workout more to their liking.
Colin and his team moved the workout to a facility an hour away from the Flowery Branch facility. In a statement released by his reps; “team representatives and media are invited to make the process transparent.”
The NFL said they didn’t get word of the change until 30 minutes prior to their scheduled session and they released a statement of their own that read in part:
“We are disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout. He informed us of that decision at 2:30 p.m. today along with the public.
“Today’s session was designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants --an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL. “
In it, they also noted that they “made considerable effort to work cooperatively with Colin’s representatives.”
However, the quarterback and his representatives were not in agreement with that statement either and had their own ideas, saying that the process was not “legitimate”, and they wanted a transparent and open process.
The session was moved to Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia and commenced around 4 p.m. with receivers of his choosing. On the field were Bruce Ellington, Eric Reid, Bryce Butler, Jordan Veasy and Ari Wertz. In attendance were a few NFL scouts, some fans and some media.
The workout was streamed live.
On the stream, onlookers described the quarterback’s throws as “lasers.”
One scout described Kaepernick’s arm talent as “elite.” “And is the same as when he came out of college,” as reported by Adam Schefter.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith spoke to the USA Today and said, “that he would be stunned if the QB was not signed to a contract following the workout, because he’s good enough to play anywhere in the league.”
Though Kaepernick may have made a very good case for his return to the league; after all the drama surrounding the workout, would teams still be willing to give him a shot?
Time will tell.
In the meantime, the quarterback says “he will continue to be ready and that “the ball is their court.”
“We’re ready to play. We’re ready to go anywhere.”
“I’ll be waiting to hear from the NFL, Roger Goodell and the 32 teams.”