Kaepernick had an opportunity to come back into the NFL, instead, his career is all but over.
Colin Kaepernick is one of the most polarizing figures in all of sports. Whenever his name is brought up in conversation, you end up with two responses: anger or solidarity. If you want to understand why this is the case, you would have to rewind the clock three years to August 14th, 2016 when Kaepernick sat on the San Francisco 49ers bench during the National Anthem. At first, no one was paying attention but after a while, fans started to take notice of the quarterback's silent protest. Eventually, Kaepernick stopped sitting and began to kneel instead. This particular style choice was influenced by a military member who told Kaepernick that kneeling is much more respectful to the troops, according to Vox.
Kaepernick's reasons for protesting were always noble but so rarely understood. The 49ers quarterback was sick and tired of the way African Americans were being treated in the country. Every week it seemed like we were hearing yet another story about a young black man being gunned down by the police. As Kaepernick said in this article from NFL.com: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Other NFL players took notice of Kaepernick's protests and immediately began showing solidarity by kneeling as well. One of the most prominent Anthem kneelers at the time was his own teammate, Eric Reid, who like Kap, would become one of the most vocal NFL players on issues concerning race relations.
These protests created a divided front amongst not just NFL players but fans as well. Some felt as though Kaepernick was disrespecting the entire country, including those who fought for their freedoms. Others thought Kaepernick was simply doing this for attention and that his intentions weren't as noble as they seemed. Despite all of these criticisms, Kaepernick continued to fight for what he thought was right. When his contract with the 49ers expired in 2017, the team opted to let him go to free agency and no one signed him. The quarterback claimed the league had blackballed him and even won a lawsuit against the NFL for that very reason. With everything that had gone down, it seemed as though both sides had moved on and that Kaepernick's career was over. This, of course, was until last weekend.
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On November 12th, 2019, news broke that the NFL and Colin Kaepernick would be joining forces in Atlanta to host a private workout with all 32 teams being invited to watch. The revelation sent Twitter into a frenzy as his supporters celebrated with joyous wonder over the prospect of Kaepernick working his way back into the league. His detractors were equally vocal as they made their displeasure for him and his protests quite clear. At first, the workout seemed like a genuine way for the NFL and Kaepernick to mend fences. By extending an olive branch to the quarterback, the NFL could confidently say they had done their due diligence and that Kap was being given a fair shake after all.
Like clockwork, this whole workout quickly turned into a public relations disaster that has Kaepernick and the NFL butting heads over details that should have been ironed out, way in advance. For instance, Kaepernick was reportedly only given two hours to make a decision regarding whether or not he would accept the workout. In addition to this, the QB claims the league had promised him they would disclose which teams would be in attendance. The NFL ended up denying they ever agreed to this but eventually, they acquiesced and we were told 25 teams would be there.
The workout was officially supposed to take place at the Atlanta Falcons' state of the art facility on Saturday, November 16th. Just hours before the workout was going to start, all hell broke loose as Kaepernick revealed he wouldn't be participating unless he could do it at a nearby high school instead. Once again, the internet erupted as they began to try and make sense of what was happening. Many jumped to conclusions and claimed the NFL was being shady while others condemned Kaepernick for being ungrateful of the opportunity presented to him. According to CBS Sports, Kaepernick's reasoning for moving the workout was because he wasn't happy with the waiver the league was trying to make him sign. The waiver made it so that Kaepernick couldn't sue the NFL should he get injured during the workout, although it seems as though there were some shadier details at play which led Kap to his eventual decision.
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Finally, the workout began and only seven of the 25 teams showed up. There were cameras everywhere, tracking Kap's every move and throw. Overall, the quarterback looked good. He moved with the agility of a player in his prime all while throwing 50-yard bombs down the field. Had this been any other player, the teams in attendance would have given him a real shot. Unfortunately, Kaepernick isn't just any player and because of this, his performance was meaningless.
Despite numerous accounts of Kaepernick's proficiency at the quarterback position, it was reported that no team was going to sign him to a contract. Unless something changes within the next few weeks or a team has a change of heart in the offseason, it seems as though Kaepernick's NFL career is officially over. Regardless of your opinion on his politics, there is no doubt that he is talented enough to play in the league. Horrible quarterbacks continue to be given chances while a player who led his team to a Super Bowl can't even get a spot on a practice squad.
While the NFL will tell you what they offered Kaepernick was a gesture out of the goodness of their heart -- born out of a desire to make things right -- it's clear that it wasn't that at all. Instead, it appears much more like a public relations tactic that was meant to make fans and Kaepernick believe they were willing to give him another shot. If this workout was truly supposed to be a way to get Kaepernick back in the league, they would have given him longer than two hours to make a decision. They also wouldn't have gone back on their promise of announcing which teams would be in attendance and they certainly wouldn't have forced him to sign an ambiguous waiver that had him questioning their true intentions.
One of the more bizarre moments in this entire saga was when the league issued a statement saying they were disappointed in Kaepernick for refusing to attend the workout, according to CBS Sports. Of course, this was not actually the case. The league tried to steer the narrative and claim the QB had completely gone AWOL on his second chance at NFL glory. As we already know, Kaepernick had simply moved the workout to a high school which turned out to be quite close to the airport all of the scouts were flying out of.
It's important to note that Kaepernick isn't totally devoid of some blame here. For years now, Kaepernick has been opining about the corruption within the NFL and how they have essentially kept him from having a career. The former quarterback has made himself into a symbol of standing up to the system and by agreeing to this workout, he allowed himself to be put under the mercy of said system. The original intentions of Kap's protests have been put into question because instead of completely standing up to the NFL and taking his talents to the CFL or XFL, Kap allowed himself to be played. Now, not only is Kaepernick's career pretty well over, his credibility is in jeopardy as well.
Coming into this workout, there was already a huge lack of trust between Kaepernick and the league. For a short period of time, it seemed as though that trust was about to be restored but in the end, we were lied to. The fans were duped and Kaepernick was played. If you think this saga is finally at its end, you're mistaken. In the months to come, many will continue to debate who is at fault for this and whether Kaepernick can somehow find his way onto a team. Simply put, these conversations are moot. This workout was the final nail in the coffin of what turned out to be one of the most contentious disputes in NFL history.