Colin Kaepernick and the NFL have truly had a tumultuous and complicated past. Kaepernick wasn’t picked up by any national team back in 2017 after he famously kneeled during the National Anthem before multiple games as a means of protesting police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. After a few incidents of this, Donald Trump tweeted that any player who participates in protests such as this one, should be “fired.” While Kaepernick wasn’t technically “fired” but rather released as a free agent, he still up-kept his discontent in the NFL “blackballing” him for performing his first amendment rights, this led to Kaepernick filing an official grievance against the NFL back in 2017, which has since been confidentially settled upon, this past spring.
Now, Kaepernick has attempted to work his way back into the league, but not without even more hardship and troubles by the NFL. The former quarterback recently performed a workout run and warm up for eight NFL team representatives, however, this workout was set up by Kaepernick himself after the NFL already invited him to the league’s official workout run in which 25 team representatives attended. Kaepernick and his team denied the invitation to attend their official event after they thought it out to be a “publicity stunt destined to fail” according to the Associated Press.
“Kaepernick’s side wanted to open the workout to the media to ensure transparency. The NFL said it made clear from the start the workout would be closed to the media. Kaepernick’s camp said the NFL agreed to provide a list of team representatives who committed to coming. The league later shifted and did not share that list,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).
As previously stated instead of attending the NFL’s event, Kaepernick held his own event at a high school field in Riverdale, 60 miles from the leagues event, in front of eight representatives, he as well sent a video from his own event to the 25 representatives who were at the official league workout. Now, over a week later, Kaepernick hasn’t heard back from any representatives in the NFL.
The lack of response most likely comes from the amount of controversy that surrounded the actual work out itself. Kaepernick and his team were skeptical from the beginning about doing anything that could benefit the NFL and further hurt his own career. According to the AJC, representatives from Kaepernick’s team stated that, in addition to the media shut out from the work out, the NFL made the original offer and stated that the former quarterback only had two hours to accept it, even though the invitation was made days before the actual workout. That quick timing was convincing to the team that the NFL was purely creating a publicity opportunity to make it seem as if they were giving Kaepernick a real opportunity that would end with no real follow through.
“Kaepernick’s representatives said the NFL ‘demanded’ as a precondition for the workout that he sign an ‘unusual liability waiver.’ Kaepernick’s side says it was concerned that not only did the NFL document seek to waive employment rights, but it contained a clause that would give the NFL and its teams commercials rights to the workout footage that could be used for what it called ‘phony’ public service announcements,” (AJC).
The combination of back and forth argument between Kaepernick’s team and the NFL painted two very stark sides to the story, that ultimately ended up hurting Kaepernick yet again in the end. The untrustworthy nature of the NFL that they have embedded into Kaepernick based on their past treatment of the star quarterback, created a narrative around this workout before it even became official. Because of this, Kaepernick stuck to his own terms and showed off his skills in his own way. The clips from his workout ended up going viral online, with a slew of supporters tweeting about how “Kaepernick still got it!” and re opened the debate over why this man was “terminated” in the first place. Regardless, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Kaepernick on the field, it’s just a matter of time, open conversation, and understanding among player and industry.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.