It’s not often that the NFL holds a special workout for an unemployed player during Week 11 of the regular season.
But then again, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not like most players, thanks to the massive media attention and controversy constantly swirling around him.
Kaepernick, who last threw a meaningful NFL pass on New Year’s Day 2017, was firmly back in the spotlight this week when news broke that he would be participating in a special workout in front of NFL personnel.
The event was scheduled to take place at the Atlanta Falcons’ facility on Saturday at 3 p.m. local time.
At the last minute, however, Kaepernick’s team put out a statement saying the venue and times were changing, while also slamming the NFL and smearing its credibility. The workout was moved to Charles R. Drew High School outside Atlanta.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that eight teams were in attendance at the high school. He originally reported that those eight included the Buffalo Bills, but then published a correction.
Bills said they did not attend Colin Kaepernick’s workout; so there was an eighth team there that still needs to be identified. https://t.co/ZficY1bTNE
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 17, 2019
A joint statement from Kaepernick’s agent, Jeff Nalley, and Kaepernick’s attorney, Ben Meiselas, painted the quarterback as a victim.
“From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one,” Meiselas and Nalley said. “Most recently, the NFL has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives.
“Additionally, Mr. Kaepernick requested all media be allowed into the workout to observe and film it and for an independent film crew to be there to ensure transparency. The NFL denied this request. Based on the prior conduct by the NFL league office, Mr. Kaepernick simply asks for a transparent and open process which is why a new location has been selected for today. Mr. Kaepernick looks forward to seeing the representatives from the clubs today.”
Again, the NFL does not normally hold special workouts for individual players this late in the regular season.
The NFL promptly fired back with a statement of its own, making it clear that it had already done plenty to accommodate Kaepernick, including letting him profit off this workout by allowing Nike to potentially turn it into a commercial. (Kaepernick is a spokesman for the athletic wear company.)
NFL’s response to Colin Kaepernick opting to do his own workout today in Atlanta: pic.twitter.com/uvUZGH7CQ5
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 16, 2019
As the NFL noted, there were originally 25 teams planning to scout Kaepernick on Saturday. Due to Kaepernick’s sudden change of venue, that number dwindled to a mere eight.
Famously, or infamously, Kaepernick became a lightning rod of controversy and criticism when he became the first NFL player to begin kneeling for the national anthem. The 32-year-old quarterback claimed he was kneeling to call attention to racial injustice and police brutality.
Just a year after he began protesting, Kaepernick was out of the league and it has become a source of friction ever since.
His detractors claim that Kaepernick was out of the league because the media scrutiny and baggage surrounding him far outweighed his throwing skills.
His supporters often claim that Kaepernick has been a victim of a sinister and clandestine blackballing scheme.
Editor’s Note: This article was modified from its original version to reflect updated information from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
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