Kaepernick workout too little, too late for NFL

Kellen Voss, Sports Editor

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Sports articles are often not read by average newspaper readers, due to a specific vocabulary and a bombastic vernacular that could be misunderstood by someone who doesn’t follow sports as closely as we die-hards do. Because of this, let me help put this Colin Kaepernick workout in simpler terms to provide non-sports fans context to make sense of the bizarre Saturday workout.

Halloween just passed two weeks ago. Put yourself in the shoes of the parent with a snot-nosed ten-year-old kid dressed in a Batman costume for the holiday. Imagine that you didn’t let your child go from door to door and trick-or-treat when so many kids across America are reluctantly donning coats over their costumes in an effort to get the literal sweet relief they crave.

This isn’t the first time you haven’t let your kid trick-or-treat. In fact, you haven’t let your little pipsqueak trick-or-treat for the past three Halloweens, all because he refuses to fold his hands and pray at the dinner table. He questions why he needs to salute a higher being that has done a lot of bad things to a lot of good kids everywhere, and because of that questioning, he has been shamed by the rest of the family.

This is essentially what has been happening to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick over the past few seasons. Even though he was seen as the next great dual-threat quarterback after leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012, Kaepernick’s name has been dragged through the mud due to him choosing to kneel for the national anthem before a preseason game in 2016.

Following the 2016 season, when Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt for the national anthem, the team let the quarterback go at the season’s end. Kaepernick has not suited up in an NFL game since, as following Kaepernick’s controversial public comments and attempts at spreading activism towards black victims of police brutality, many NFL teams were afraid to even work him out due to the theoretical outcry that would follow by certain fans whose racists views are as strong as their love for football.

Kaepernick has been able to spread his word of activism since his release, all while staying in NFL shape and practicing with future NFL draft picks. He founded the “Know Your Rights Camp” in 2016, an organization which held free seminars to disadvantaged youths to teach them about self-empowerment, American history and legal rights. He had also been featured in a controversial Nike ad campaign that featured the tagline, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The quarterback has pretty much lived up to that tagline, sacrificing his profession to pursue activism in a world with much need for it. It seemed like the book on Kaepernick’s NFL career had been closed until earlier this week, when the NFL announced that all 32 of their teams were invited to watch Kaepernick work out at the Atlanta Falcon’s facility to see if he could earn a second chance at succeeding in a league that had essentially blackballed him.

This is an unprecedented move for the NFL to set up what is essentially a Pro Day for one player. It is especially confusing, considering that most workouts like this happen on Tuesdays, giving NFL coaches and managers proper time to see potential players work out before working them into their playbook so they play on Sunday.

The date of Kaepernick’s workout on Saturday, Nov. 16 was non-negotiable, as Kaepernick and his team were only given five days notice to prepare. His representatives moved the workout back an hour and to a different location, due to the NFL demanding “that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives.”

All these specifications regarding the workout don’t give Kaepernick a fair chance to succeed. It is also ludicrous that a league who employs everyone, from a wide receiver in Tyreek Hill who assaulted his pregnant wife to a running back in Adrian Peterson who beat his son with a sharp tree branch, that would be so cautionary when it came to a guy who was simply standing up for what he believed in by refusing to stand for the National Anthem.

Now, back to the young kid on Halloween. The NFL giving Kaepernick this workout is like you, the hypothetical parent, giving your candy-ridden child a Fun Size Snickers bar in the middle of November. You can’t say that you didn’t give your child candy, but the actions that led up to this gift makes it lack any sort of value.

Similar to a hung-over college kid scribbling nonsense on their assignment to simply get credit, the NFL did the bear minimum in holding this workout. No matter how much criticism they face, they can always respond to those doubters with a clever trope: “Say what you want about us, but you can’t say we didn’t give him a proper chance.”

This is a lose-lose situation for Kaepernick. If the NFL teams feel that he bombs this workout and he doesn’t get signed anywhere, no progress has been made. And even if one team takes a chance on him, he’ll need a few weeks to learn the playbook and get settled in an offense, while competing against guys who have been running these plays since mid-July.

Rosters are already set, and most NFL teams are either set at quarterback as they make a playoff push, or have given up on their season partially thanks to their putrid situation with their man under center. This workout should have happened before this season started. Scratch that, this workout should have happened three years ago.

But thanks to the corrupt, mess of an organization that is the National Football League, we may never get to see Kaepernick get the proper chance to prove that he can still play professional football at a high level.