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The NFL continues to blackball Colin Kaepernick after sham workout

The league continues to show its unwillingness to welcome Colin Kaepernick back into the fold.

On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Colin Kaepernick was scheduled to have a workout in front of up to 30 NFL teams. In case you have been living under a rock, Kaepernick is the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. He has been out of the league for three years, which still puzzles many to this day. Many will tell you that his skills quickly diminished, and he no longer deserved to be an NFL quarterback. However, that is just one narrative of a story that continues to reflect a significant divide between old money and today’s athlete. 

Kaepernick was caught sitting down during the National Anthem in 2016. Sitting turned into kneeling as Kaepernick was protesting the atrocities that minorities face in this country. As a vocal and known supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Kaepernick made his position known to an NFL fan base that equates to millions of people. He knew that there would be a backlash, but to his credit, Colin stood firm in his beliefs and continued to kneel.

After the 2016 season, the 49ers informed Kaepernick that they were planning on releasing him. Kaepernick opted out of his contract and waited for calls to come in for his next job, which never came. The reasoning was that Kapernick was unable to play at a high level in the National Football League. Was he unemployed due to his kneeling? NFL executives would say, “Absolutely not.” Did it play a part? 

You bet it did.

The NFL experienced an eight percent decrease in viewership during the 2016 season. The protests that now featured multiple players were a major reason. The NFL saw that and figured that if viewership is dropping, ticket sales and eventually sponsorships would be affected. For the first time during the 2017 season, the word “collusion” became a word associated with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL. 

Collusion (noun): agreement, esp. in secret for an illegal or dishonest reason

The collusion, according to Kaepernick and his supporters, was among the NFL and its 32 teams. Those in power saw the drop in ratings and continued backlash from fans and concluded that the best way to get those fans back was to keep out the one person who started all of this, Colin Kaepernick. While the NFL and the teams have disputed this, it is challenging not to believe that something was happening that resulted in Kaepernick not getting a serious look for an NFL job. 

Jeff Driskel, Ryan Tannehill, Nate Peterman, Tyrod Taylor. 

Those are some of the quarterbacks in the NFL whose job statuses and skills are questionable at best. Meanwhile, an NFC Champion quarterback has been sitting at home for three years. Kaepernick eventually sued the NFL for collusion and settled with the league in arbitration. Even with that, Kaepernick wanted to get back into the league.

That brings us to November 16, where Kaepernick was set for his NFL sponsored workout. Major issues arose heading into the workout that made it seem as if the NFL was attempting to change the rules of the game. Here are a few things that have been reported on about the workout.

  • The NFL scheduled the workout for a Saturday afternoon. Routine workouts are typically held during the week when many scouts or front office personnel are available. 
  • Kaepernick wanted media and cameras in for the workout for transparency reasons. The NFL refused.
  • The waiver the NFL sent to Kaepernick and his representatives had many strange line items. One item essentially said that when the workout is over, Kaepernick would not be able to pursue any further legal action against the league. 

Kaepernick’s camp was not happy, and just hours before the workout, an audible was called. Kaepernick moved the workout to local high school and invited media members to watch and videotape the workout. Only eight teams sent representatives to the revised workout, which was not sanctioned by the NFL. After exceeding expectations, Kaepernick said many things, but the final line he spoke summed it all up. 

“The ball’s in their court. We’re ready to go.”

According to Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos, two teams are interested in the quarterback, although no visits have been planned as of yet. Many have already jumped to criticize Kaepernick and his choice to change the venue and hold his workout. Stephen A. Smith said that Kaepernick showed by his actions that he “doesn’t want to play, he wants to be a martyr.” Hue Jackson, whom the NFL chose to run the workout, backed out of the Kaepernick workout “out of obligation to the NFL.” 

Now let’s keep it 100. The workout was a complete and utter joke. The NFL wanted to put this rushed, disjointed display on to silence their critics. They wanted everyone to see that “Hey, we are trying to get him a job” like he is going to the unemployment office once a month for his benefits and job training classes. And as a way to control the narrative of the workout, they refused to allow media inside. So even if Kaepernick flourished in the drills, without media or cameras there, the NFL could push a story from an “unnamed source” saying that he did not look good in the workout. That would have killed any chance of a job.

Colin Kaepernick has stood for his principles and is being penalized for continuing to do so. In a world where being “woke” is the fad of our day, Colin Kaepernick has taken being “woke” and turned it into programs for the homeless and disadvantaged youth. He has given donations to organizations like Mothers Against Police Brutality. While social consciousness is a badge of honor to tell friends on Twitter, Kaepernick has done more than most, and it has cost him his job and doing something he loves.

Instead of holding Kaepernick up as an example of what the NFL should be about, they pushed him out in exchange to get a few fans back who want their athletes to “Shut Up and Play Football.” Instead of showing Kaepernick doing great things that he does in silence, they continue to let woman beaters, child abusers, and drunk drivers remain in the league. “But hey, let’s not let our players stand up for what is right or allow them to express their opinions about social issues that affect their communities.” 

As a journalist, my job is not to take sides but to remain impartial throughout my reporting. However, I believe the Colin Kaepernick saga has afforded me the right to express my views and opinions. I still watch the NFL on Sundays. I still root for the New York Football Giants and rise and fall with every win and loss that my team attains. With that said, do I believe that something egregious is going on regarding Colin Kaepernick? 

I certainly do. 

The mere fact that Colin Kaepernick has not received a workout, let alone a job in three years, shows that the NFL does not care about its fan base. They forget that much of their fanbase believes in the same ideals and principles of Colin Kaepernick. They forget that fans are going through or have gone through things that Colin Kaepernick stands up for and addresses. They forget that many of their fans are minorities who just want to be happy, safe and do what they love every day. Unfortunately, the NFL took away what Colin Kaepernick loves three years ago. 

I hope that Colin Kaepernick returns to the NFL. He is someone who young people, no matter what they look like, can look up to. In sports, it is rare to find an athlete that is unapologetically honest and real about life. LeBron James was that person until his China comments in October. Colin Kaepernick remains that person. It does not matter how long he stays out of football. He is a man of principle and a man who will fight for what he believes. That is the playbook that young people should be reading and studying.


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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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