With the Colin Kaepernick case by all appearances closed, the NFL has opened it up again, scheduling a Saturday working with all 32 teams invited without seeking Kaepernick’s input before the session was set. The reasons for the decision remain unclear. Adam Schefter of ESPN has addressed the motivation for the workout.
“I think Roger Goodell, there’s a part of him, the Commissioner, that feels bad about the way that this has unfolded,” Schefter said on ESPN. “And I think that he believes that he must do his part to try to get a workout for Colin Kaepernick, to try to get interviews with Colin Kaepernick, to try to do his part to get Colin Kaepernick in front of teams.
“Now Roger Goodell cannot make teams sign a quarterback himself, and we’ve seen what has transpired in recent months and years where nobody has brought him in to visit [editor’s note: the Seahawks brought Kaepernick in for a visit], nobody has worked him out, and he essentially has been persona non grata with the NFL. This is a reversal of that with the league office. This is the league office stepping in to try to make sure that Colin Kaepernick . . . has a chance to show to teams what he can’t do, what he can do, what his level of interest is in returning, how much he’d like to be back in football. And, again, the NFL can’t make a team sign him I don’t think, but it can arrange something like this that really turns into Colin Kaepernick’s Pro Day.”
Dan Patrick said on Wednesday’s installment of his show that a source has told him Goodell felt pressured to do this, but the source declined to explain the basis for that pressure.
My guess continues to be that the league’s lawyers fear a second lawsuit from Kaepernick, which would argue that the teams individually and collectively (with or without proof of actual collusion) have frozen him out in retaliation for his grievance that was settled for payment reportedly in the range of $1 million to $10 million.
If Goodell were simply trying to make amends, he would do so without fanfare or a spotlight. He would work the back channels, finding one or more teams that would give Kaepernick a normal, traditional workout in exchange for whatever gets traded when these backroom deals occur. It’s widely believed that Goodell did precisely that when cajoling the Rams to draft Michael Sam in 2014. Peter King reported in September of that year that, after the Rams cut Sam, the league called multiple teams in an effort to get Sam on a practice squad.
If Goodell were simply trying to make amends, he would agree to Kaepernick’s request that the workout happen on a Tuesday, or at a minimum that it happen on a Saturday later than three days from now.
Schefter calls the upcoming session “Colin Kaepernick’s Pro Day.” But head coaches and General Managers regularly attend Pro Day workouts. On Saturday, head coaches (except for those on a bye) will be preparing for games — and most General Managers will be scouting college football players. The NFL world simply won’t stop spinning for a first-of-its-kind, in-season veteran player workout.
The league office knows this, or it should. Either way, proceeding under these circumstances shows that the workout is about anything but making things right with a player who has been wronged since becoming a free agent in March 2017.
The fact that Schefter characterizes the looming workout as a “reversal” by the league office confirms that the persistent bias against Kaepernick extended to and/or emanated from 345 Park Avenue. There’s no reason to believe that the bias has suddenly evaporated.