The league can claim it tried to do right, offering the banished quarterback an opportunity to showcase his abilities. More than 20 NFL scouts were at the Atlanta Falcons headquarters on Saturday, waiting to see if the former NFC champion could still play.
Kaepernick can claim that’s exactly what he proved, albeit not per the NFL’s guidelines. In a 40-minute workout at an Atlanta high school, watched by a handful of scouts in person and thousands of onlookers online, he demonstrated that his NFL-caliber talent remains intact.
His critics can claim he’s too much trouble, more interested in making statements than making plays. By balking at the league arrangements and declining to attend the closed workout 30 minutes before its start time — instead, moving the session 51 miles away and making it public — he wrested control from the dictatorial NFL.
His supporters can claim the league was never serious anyway, simply going through the motions for appearances’ sake. The offer seemed fishy from the jump, put together hastily and in solitude, with unnecessary restrictions on when, where and who. That’s no way for the culprit to treat the aggrieved.
Teams that need another QB on the roster saw a strong-armed, well-conditioned prospect who looks like he could start next Sunday. “The goal of this workout was to show the teams that he can play,” Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid told reporters. “I think every team in the league could use Colin’s help.
However, teams that need a QB but are scared to add Kaepernick, saw the polarization and controversy that fuels their fears. One person camped outside the Falcons’ headquarters held a wooden sign that said Kaepernick was “un-American.” Another person wore a 49ers No. 7 jersey and had a sign that said, “I’m with Kap.”
If you believe the decision to not follow the NFL’s rules was a mistake, you have company in ESPN motormouth Stephen A. Smith, who claims Kaepernick “doesn’t want to play, he wants to be a martyr. You have company in rapper/NFL liaison Jay-Z, who reportedly is “disappointed” that Kaepernick “turned a legitimate workout into a publicity stunt.”
But if you believe that Kaepernick was correct to distrust the process, correct to want everyone to see everything — instead of letting the league splice his tape — you have company in noted sociologist Michael Eric Dyson. “Colin Kaepernick, understandably wants to defend his right to show his wares to the world; he doesn’t want an edited version,” Dyson said Monday on “First Take.”
As mentioned at the top, this smorgasbord has a range of tasty offerings, enough to suit any appetite. My plate is loaded with meat and potatoes that say this: Kaepernick worked out and teams can see the film.
Presumably, that was the NFL’s genuine intent.
It doesn’t matter whether Hue Jackson conducted the session or league operatives worked the camcorder. It doesn’t matter whether the location was an NFL facility or Kaepernick selected his own receivers. It doesn’t matter whether 25 scouts were in attendance or media members were allowed to watch.
It also doesn’t matter that Kaepernick stirs strong passion on both sides of a divide.
Not counting the day he signs and the day of his first news conference afterward, he’s unlikely to draw much interest outside of his play. Even his posture during the national anthem isn’t sufficient fodder to create a week-to-week frenzy.
He was such a distraction in 2016, he won the 49ers’ most prestigious team award, joining the likes of Joe Montana, Steve Young, Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. Besides, Kaepernick might be a backup upon returning to the NFL, giving him less reason to be spotlighted.
But we’ll never know for certain the effect of his power move. If no team steps forward, critics will say Kaepernick sabotaged himself and supporters will say the blackball remains in effect. If a team adds him as an upgrade, critics will complain that Kaepernick is unworthy and supporters will complain that it should’ve happened sooner.
“I’ve been ready for three years,” he said after Saturday’s workout. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why.”
I know why, but do all of us? That’s like saying we all know certain people aren’t fit for certain offices.
Some people looked at Kaepernick’s workout and saw proof that he belongs. Others looked and saw the explanation for his continued unemployment.
Guess it’s a matter of taste.
⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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