Business_news The NFL’s botched workout for Colin Kaepernick was unlike anything the league had ever put together, and blame for the debacle is flying in all directions


  • Last weekthe NFL made the shocking announcementthatColin Kaepernickwould be taking part in a workout put together by the league in Atlanta on Saturday.
  • In the days that followed,offers were made, accusations were traded, and waivers went unsigned, withKaepernick ultimately skipping the NFL-sanctioned workoutin favor of putting on his showcase where media would be allowed to be present.
  • Since then, everybody has caught there share of the blame for how the situation played out, with the league, teams, Kaepernick, andeven Jay-Zall criticized.
  • After a week unlike anything the NFL has ever seen before, we wound up right back where we started.
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At the start of the 2019 NFL season, the drama surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment within the league seemed relatively settled.

Kaepernick had not played an NFL snap in three years, hadsettled his collusion case against the league, andhad spent time working as an activistandteamed up with Nikefor a fewpopular ad campaigns.

While Kaepernick’s name would still get brought up regarding teams looking for help at quarterback, andKap himself had posted a videociting his workouts and readiness to take the field, the fervor surrounding his potential return to the NFL had largely faded.

That all changed last Tuesday whenthe NFL sent a memo out to teamsacross the league saying that Kaepernick would be taking part in a workout in Atlanta that coming Saturday. An NFL source told business Insider that “several” teams had expressed interest in Kaepernick’s football readiness.

For a moment, it felt as though Kaepernick might finally have his best, last shot at returning to the NFL, but that feeling quickly faded asthe original workout fell apart on Saturday. The NFL made demands Kaepernick wasn’t inclined to agree to, prompting Kap to move it to another location on short notice, with fewer teams than initially expected in attendance.

Eventually, Kaepernick threw and ran through drills at Charles Drew High School, with one NFL executive tellingESPN’s Adam Schefterthat the former 49ers quarterback showed he still had “elite” arm talent.

—Adam Best (@adamcbest)November 16, 2019

“I’ve been ready for three years,” Kaepernick said after his workout. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why I came out here. [I] showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them stop running. Stop running from the truth. Stop running from the people.”

Unfortunately for Kaepernick, it feels as though we’re further from that reality than when the week began.

What started as a promising sign that Kaepernick might get a shot at an NFL roster spot quickly devolved into a debacle that reanimated the debate surrounding his initial departure from the league, with all sides involved somewhat at fault.

Business_news Roger Goodell and the NFL come off as demanding at best, and conspiratorial at worst.

After the initial surprise that the NFL’s announcement caused, almost every other detail that came out regarding Kaepernick’s coming workoutbrought more confusionas to how and why exactly it came together in the first place.

Kaepernicktweetedthat he was “just getting word” about the workout shortly after the announcement, raising the question of why he wasn’t fully informed of the opportunity before the public.According to The Ringer’s Ricky R. Tynes, the request for Kap’s workout came “out of the blue,” rather than as the result of some ongoing negotiation.

Despite the short notice Kap was given, the NFL was reportedly stringent regarding the details of the workout. The showcase was scheduled for Saturday in Atlanta, but according to Tynes, Kaepernick’s camp asked if they could push it to Tuesday. They believed it would bring a better turnout than a Saturday that would have team scouts already busy covering college football. The NFL refused. Kaepernick’s camp then asked if the workout could take place the following Saturday, giving the team’s more notice and time to prepare. Again, the NFL refused.

Kaepernick works out for NFL teams.
Todd Kirkland/AP

When Saturday finally came around, Kaepernick called an audible and moved the workout outside of the NFL’s purview after refusing to their terms, including the exclusion of media and the requirement that he sign a waiver that would protect the league from future lawsuits from the quarterback.

While the league tried to pass off the waiver as a part of standard operating procedure, once the media got ahold of the agreement,red flags were immediately apparent. According to a copy of the three-page documentobtained by NBC Sports’ Pro football Talk, the league included language regarding Kaepernick’s employment status that could have barred him from accusing the NFL of collusion or retaliation.

In the wake of the waiver becoming public,Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sportscalled the NFL’s proposed workout a “Trojan horse.”

“The NFL’s weapon was the waiver planted inside it,” Robinson wrote. “And a sweeping victory was one Kaepernick signature away.”

Business_news Coaches, general managers, and owners across the league didn’t come across well either.

By Thursday, 11 teams across the league had committed to sending representatives to watch Kap throw. Thatnumber grew to 24 by Saturday, but after his decision to opt-out of the NFL’s offer in favor of holding his workout, just eight teams wound up seeing Kaepernick run through drills in person,according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Some teamsblamed the short-notice change of locationfortheir absence. Others said they weren’t interested.Pete Carroll said, per ProFootballTalk, the Seahawks had planned to have someone attend, but “we couldn’t stay with the changes that happened.”

One of the supposed reasons the NFL chose to host Kaepernick for a workout was that teams had inquired about his interest and readiness but were hesitant to host a workout for him on their own, according toNFL Network’s Steve Wyche.

“They wanted to know — apparently these teams are calling the NFL — Kaepernick’s readiness,” Wyche said. “But they weren’t willing to bring him in for a workout, even though it was suggested to bring him in. ‘Why are you calling us? You guys bring him in?’ These teams wouldn’t bring him in, so the NFL said, ‘OK, we’re gonna do this for you.'”

But to Panthers safety Eric Reid, who took part in the protests alongside Kaepernick and also joined him in his collusion case against the NFL, that justification rang hollow. The sudden interest of 25 teams in Kaepernick after years of giving him the cold shoulder felt more like a set up than an actual audition.

—Eric Reid (@E_Reid35)November 18, 2019

Had any teams been willing to workout Kaepernick the past three years, this likely could have been avoided. Whether due to a desire to avoid the media storm that would come with hosting him, or a desire not to cross the NFL after Kaepernick had sued the league, that never happened.

Business_news Media covering the debacle didn’t have a great week.

Since his protests against police violence and racial injustice in the judicial system, coverage of Kaepernick has been anything but tepid. Whether commentators came out in support of his cause, in opposition to it, or even if they attempted to remain objective observers, the nature of covering Kaepernick tended to verge into the extreme — a fact that proved true once again this week.

Reid and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smithgot into a public feud over Kaepernick in the wake of his workout, sparked bya video that Smith posted on Saturday night.

“You don’t want to work,” Smith said. “You just want to make noise. And you want to control the narrative. It’s over. Colin Kaepernick’s asperations for an NFL career, it’s over.”

Eric Reid kneeling alongside Colin Kaepernick when the two were teammates on the San Francisco 49ers.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Reidfired back, saying that Smith was “Tap dancing for the NFL,” and argued that the league had never operated in good faith. From there, Smith escalated his furor, posting a series of tweets imploring Reid to “wake the hell up,” among other things.

Other media members fired off questionable takes of their own, fromRick Reilly’s ill-advised McDonald’s metaphortoa particularly painful segment on CBS’ “NFL Today”during which the hosts seemed either unaware of or uninterested in the legitimate concerns regarding the NFL’s motivations behind the workout. 

Not every take was that bad — at Fox Sports 1, Nick Wright offered a balanced, nuanced perspective on Kaepernick’s decision to opt-out of the NFL’s workout during a five-minute monologue on “First Things First” on Monday.

—nick wright (@getnickwright)November 18, 2019

Regardless of where you fall on the topic, Wright’s take goes more to show that in a situation with as many moving parts and different interests at stake as this, it takes more than a single tweetstorm or 30-second news hit to make a strong point.

Business_news Colin Kaepernick was not exactly a winner either.

Kaepernick felt confident with his decision to host a workout after details of the waiver were made public. However, there were still some level-headed members of the media who noted that the way he proceeded through the weekend might have assured he would not play in the NFL again.

“The way teams are on this, they don’t want a distraction,” saidThe Ringer’s Ryen Russilo, while discussing Kaepernick with former NFL defensive end and 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Chris Long. “And for me, Kaepernick just convinced the rest of the league that he would be nothing but a massive distraction.

Long largely agreed with Russilo’s sentiment. “I’m pro-Kap. I’ve been pro-Kap from the beginning,” Long said. “But if the NFL was playing a PR game, he gave them the game. And I hate that because I want him back in the league. He deserves to be back in the league.”

“He should never be having to jump through these hoops, period,” Long said. “The reason this is going on is because he was blackballed. But here we are three years later, and he’s having to ace the PR thing, … He’s having to ace all this, and get 100% on this test, and this test shouldn’t even have to be taken.”

Even those who agreed with Kaepernick’s cause seemed convinced that chances of him getting another shot had likely gone down.

Business_news Somehow, Jay-Z is involved in all of this also.

While the entire situation surrounding Kaepernick’s workout was still unfolding, somehow, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z got brought into the mix.

Jay-Z hadcaught criticism earlier in the yearafter linking up with the NFL as a part of a joint entertainment and social-justice deal. Jay-Z had been an outward supporter of Kaepernick’s protests when they were a hot topic of conversation, having worn a Kaepernick jersey during a performance on “Saturday Night Live” in 2017.

Jay-Z and Roger Goodell.
Ben Hider/AP

After the league made its shocking announcement of Kaepernick’s first workout, reports began swirling that Jay-Z had somehow been involved in helping to make it a reality.The NFL Network’s Ian Rapaportsaid Jay-Z “had some influence,” on the matter.

When Kaepernick decided against taking part in the NFL’s workout,Jay-Z reportedly was left frustratedwith the quarterback.Sources told TMZthat the rapper felt as though Kaepernick squandered a legitimate opportunity to showcase his abilities to NFL teams and instead turned it “into a publicity stunt.”

Roc Nation denied that Jay-Z had made any such comments.

Regardless of Jay-Z’s actual feelings and level of involvement concerning Kaepernick’s second chance at the NFL, it’s pretty clear he came out of the situation worse for wear.

Business_news After all that, we’re pretty much back where we started.

And so, after a whirlwind week of offers, counter-offers, accusations, and statements, things haven’t changed all that much from where we stood before this whole debacle began.

Kaepernick is still without a job — a reality that feels unlikely to change any time soon.

The NFL still prefers to keep his politics away from its brand. Teams around the league say that they might agree with his cause but would rather avoid a distraction in the locker room. Reporters and commentators still tweet. Jay-Z still has an odd, somewhat murky relationship with the NFL.

The NFL’s offer to Kaepernick was unprecedented, Kaepernick flipped the script, and we all wound up back at square one.

If anything, the past week served as proof of something we’ve already known for some time — Colin Kaepernick likely has the talent to play quarterback in the NFL, but that was never the real issue in the first place.

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