By: Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
It finally happened, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick got a workout. There was a lot of controversy surrounding his workout, and it seems that no one benefited from it. Kaepernick is getting criticism for how he handled the workout, and I understand why. But this was a horribly planned workout by the NFL.
This is the first time in recent memory the NFL scheduled a workout for one player in the middle of the season. Usually, teams invite players to their facilities, but the NFL scheduled a workout similar to a pro day. They also scheduled it on Saturday, when most teams are either traveling to away games or preparing for home games. In a combine/pro day workout, the head coach and general manager are usually present. This workout was seen by the lower level scouts, who likely are not as experienced.
Arguably one of the biggest issues was the shortened waiver. The NFL sent an initial waiver they claimed was the same that any other free agent would sign. Kaepernick’s team sent a revised waiver that was reported to be less than 300 words, compared to the standard NFL waiver that is over 1,200 words long. Initially, it seems that Kaepernick would agree that the NFL isn’t responsible if he gets hurt. However, there seems to be more involved than just injuries.
Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated said, “the NFL’s waiver uses the expression “any and all claims, demands, actions, causes of action, suits, grievances.”
Kaepernick could rightfully question why the league is concerned about “any and all” claims if only physical injury claims are at issue. Further, the phrase “demands, actions, causes of action, suits, grievances” probably gave Kaepernick pause. By signing such a statement, he might have relinquished the chance to grieve or sue over an employment matter.”
Most fans would agree that Kaepernick was blackballed by the NFL, and I can’t blame him for wanting the possibility to sue for collusion again. Since beginning his protests over police brutality and racial injustice in 2016, he has not been signed by an NFL team. Some have been interested, but no one had brought him in for a workout. He believed he was intentionally being kept out of the NFL and sued the league. Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL, but it’s hard to believe money healed every wound.
This workout was unique, and I don’t think the NFL realized it. Neither side trusts the other at this point, and it seems the workout was rushed. Kaepernick was informed on Tuesday about the workout and had two hours to accept. Considering how unprecedented this was, I don’t think two hours is enough time to decide.
The NFL denied his request to move the workout to another day. They didn’t even inform the teams before the statement came out, according to ESPN. Kaepernick questioned if it was legit, and I still have questions about its legitimacy. The NFL reported that 25 teams would attend the workout at the Atlanta Falcons facility. I find it hard to believe that 25 teams are currently interested in Kaepernick since none have brought him in for a workout. Kaepernick wanted the media to be present for transparency and the NFL refused to allow it. This seemed suspicious to me. If it’s a legit workout why prevent the media from covering it?
Kaepernick moved the workout to a high school one hour away from the Falcons facility. This angered many of his critics and resulted in eight teams showing up. The move was announced within an hour of the initial workout starting. Most of the reported 25 teams who came to Atlanta left, but there’s a question that came from it. The move was announced within an hour of the initial start time to the teams, but fans were already at the high school. If this was a legit workout, how did the fans find out the location before anyone else?
If the NFL really wants Kaepernick back in the league, why haven’t they encouraged a team to bring him in? Players try out all the time, many who are significantly less talented than Kaepernick. I find it hard to believe that quarterbacks such as Jake Dolegala of the Cincinnati Bengals and Tim Boyle of the Green Bay Packers are better than Kaepernick. He is easily as good, if not better than most of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and likely better than some of the starters.
Did he handle this perfectly, not even close. But neither did the NFL. This should have been planned between the league and Kaepernick for much longer than five days. It’s obvious this workout was rushed to try and end the Kaepernick debate. If anything it’s only going to continue. I don’t think he plays in the NFL again, but this workout is not the reason why. It’s a combination of the NFL not wanting him representing them based on his beliefs, and some of the actions from Kaepernick the last three years.
I believe Kaepernick deserves another shot. But I don’t think he’s going to get it. It’s clear that neither side wants to give in, and I don’t see it ending soon enough for him to return to the league.