“I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for three years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.”
When Colin Kaepernick tweeted that Tuesday evening, he sent the sports world into a frenzy.
After all, Kaepernick was seemingly (and unjustly) blackballed from the NFL. And it’s safe to surmise that his blackballing stems from his decision in 2016. That’s when he began to silently protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before kickoff(s). This came at the suggestion of retired Green Beret Nate Boyer.
Unless you’re living under a rock though, this should not be news to you.
On March 3rd, 2017, Kaepernick opted out of a six-year, $126 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers. And it’s safe to say he hasn’t had a fair chance to compete for a job since. So news of his upcoming workout brought joy to a large section of football fans (and people in general).
There’s also an even larger amount of both who wish to never see him touch an NFL field again.
And the whirlwind of conflicting information since the announcement raises concerns.
The Red Flags
Kaepernick’s upcoming workout comes with serious questions the NFL has yet to answer in detail. Several red flags surrounding Saturday’s workout in Atlanta are:
- The NFL made the initial contact with Kaepernick’s representatives regarding scheduling a workout. This surprised Kaepernick and his camp.
- NFL workouts are usually on Tuesdays. This gives general managers and coach’s an easier chance to attend. Kaepernick’s representatives made a request to reschedule the workout for the upcoming Tuesday. They were denied. They were also denied to have it rescheduled for the following Saturday.
- ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kaepernick’s representatives requested a list of personnel attending the upcoming workout. While initially promising to provide such a list, the NFL has since reneged.
- Several NFL teams confused about the workout’s scheduling made contact with Kaepernick’s representatives as a courtesy to inform them that they would not be in attendance.
Kaepernick’s last NFL stint (2016) came with the 49ers, and while they weren’t successful in his last season (2-14, 1-10 as the starter), his statistics over 12 games were respectable. He threw for 2,241, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions with a 90.7 quarterback rating. Additionally, he rushed for 468 yards (averaging 6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Furthermore, he also guided the 49ers to two NFC Championship games, with the team winning one and advancing to Super Bowl XLVII.
Over 50 free-agent quarterbacks have been able to sign with NFL teams as starters or backups since Kaepernick last played. And it’s arguable that none of them have a resume or skill set better than him.
So what has changed? Why is the same league who seemingly went out of their way to blackball Kaepernick having a sudden change of heart, and willing to offer him a shot? His former teammate questions the motive.
Skepticism from a Brother
Kaepernick was never alone in his form of silent protest. His former 49ers teammate Eric Reid (who now plays for the Carolina Panthers), was there with him every step of the way. As a matter of fact, Reid also was subject to the same level of vitriol as Kaepernick, even filing his own grievance letter against the NFL, alluding to collusion against him being able to sign with a team.
Reid has never been hesitant to vocally support Kaepernick in his efforts to return to the league. He even went as far as suggesting his signing to Panthers management due to Cam Newton’s injury. So when news broke of Kaepernick’s workout, Reid voiced his happiness along with his skepticism.
And he wore an “#IMWITHKAP” t-shirt while doing it.
“If it’s a real process, I’m excited,” Reid told Sheena Quick of Fox Sports 1340. “The strange thing is that it’s on a Saturday. And it remains to be seen who is going to be able to make that workout, being that it’s a day before a game. But we’ll see what happens.”
Reid’s concerns are valid. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” Reid said Wednesday. “At this point, it feels like a PR stunt.”
This shouldn’t be a shocker to anyone as he hasn’t been hesitant in voicing his dissatisfaction with the NFL about this, including its’ new deal with Roc Nation.
The Hov Effect
On August 13th, the NFL announced a multi-year partnership with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. As part of the agreement, Roc Nation will advise on the selection of artists for major NFL performances such as the Super Bowl. Additionally, Roc Nation will assist the NFL with the “Inspire Change” initiative, which is based around social justice awareness. Jay-Z’s involvement with the league came as a shocker to many. There are reports of the legendary artist urging rapper Travis Scott to not perform at last season’s Super Bowl. This was due to the fact that Kaepernick was still not on an NFL team. He also rapped about how he didn’t need the NFL, but that the NFL needed him. Lastly, the deal stunned people because it came off as if Kaepernick was an afterthought.
And like it or not, the NFL’s involvement in social justice awareness isn’t taking place without Kaepernick protesting nor does the Roc Nation merger exist.
Hell, this country isn’t having the conversation on police brutality and racism right now without Kaepernick bringing the issue to the forefront.
Reid blasted the Roc Nation/NFL deal on Twitter, stating that Jay-Z’s motive was to make millions of dollars with the NFL at Kaepernick’s expense.
Think about it.
How can Kaepernick be the inspiration behind the social justice aspect of the Roc Nation/NFL merger, but they don’t include him in it? Due to this, Jay-Z received backlash over several weeks.
And depending on whom you ask, it was justified.
Fast forward a few months, reports are that Jay-Z had some influence in Kaepernick’s workout taking place this Saturday. The extent of that influence, however, has yet to be acknowledged.
Where Are We Now?
Due to the ambiguity of the sudden workout, the refusal to reschedule, and the reports of multiple teams declining to attend the private session, the NFL doesn’t look good at all.
And unfortunately, whether fair or not, Jay-Z doesn’t look good either.
With the mention of his name as an advocate of this move, he doesn’t get to skate the same criticism the NFL is facing over inconsistencies regarding the upcoming workout. If he can receive the praise for pushing forward Kaepernick’s upcoming workout, he also should be subject to the criticism over its reported poor execution.
Kaepernick’s workout this Saturday comes with questions growing by the minute. Mysteriously, there are not a lot of answers. And after it’s underway, there will only be more questions to follow. At face value, one can view it as a publicity stunt or “pr move” as Reid alluded to. That way, the NFL (and Jay-Z) can rid themselves of negative feedback surrounding their partnership. Or just maybe, this could be Kaepernick finally getting his chance to show he still belongs in the league.
However, if you look at the timeline of events since the announcement, it shows that the NFL is piecing it together so quickly that it comes with a non-genuine feeling.
Heck, former NFL head coach Hue Jackson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he just found out today he would be leading this weekend’s workout.
For the NFL to contact Kaepernick’s team on Tuesday at 10 a.m., send out a league memo to teams around 4 p.m. that same day regarding the workout, and not have a coach in place until two days later is embarrassing.
Regardless of how anyone feels about it, the NFL is patronizing Kapernick in his attempt to return to the league.
And they used Jay-Z to do it.
(Graphic Image created by Terrance Cochran)