Kaepernick Workout Will Help NFL Answer Questions From Both Sides
The NFL hosting a workout for Colin Kaepernick this Saturday marks a "sharp pivot" by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who "saw it as a solution to dual pressures: Kaepernick's team has continued to belabor the complete absence of his opportunities, while teams had reached out to his office and were potentially interested in him," according to Andrew Beaton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The plan to offer Kaepernick a workout "came together quickly, and partly because Kaepernick has continued to publicly pressure the league to give him a chance." Kaepernick's agents last month "reiterated he has been training rigorously and remains eager to play." Sources said that the pressure "prompted at least two teams to reach out to the league office and ask: What's the status of Colin Kaepernick?" Sources said that those calls "moved Goodell to re-evaluate his stance" of the league office not getting "involved in player personnel decisions." The sources added that Goodell believed a "league-organized workout -- which would also be filmed and sent to teams -- was an opportunity to address his building frustration over Kaepernick's complaint that no team would even let him try out." Goodell "consulted with at least some owners before going ahead with the idea" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/14).
PROVIDING TEAMS COVER: ESPN.com's Dan Graziano reported several teams have "been in contact with the league office to ask about Kaepernick's status, and the league has grown tired of telling teams they're free to find out for themselves." Teams with potential interest in signing Kaepernick "haven't wanted to bring" him in for a visit or workout the way they "routinely do on Tuesdays during the season, so the league is organizing Saturday's workout so that interested teams can check him out en masse." Sources said that the NFL is "not required to hold this workout" as part of the settlement between Kaepernick and the league (ESPN.com, 11/13). In Chicago, Brad Biggs writes the league planning the event "creates an interesting dynamic." Teams curious about Kaepernick can "show up and get answers to those questions without creating the kind of spotlight that would be generated by bringing him to their facility" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/14). The AP's Paul Newberry noted the league has "given everyone a bit of cover to see for themselves what Kaepernick can bring to a team" (AP, 11/13). In DC, Des Bieler writes this "unusual arrangement invited speculation that it was designed to shield individual teams from revealing that they have a legitimate interest in at least kicking the tires on Kaepernick" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/14).
UNPRECEDENTED WORKOUT: In DC, Mark Maske notes it is "highly unusual for the league to have a role in arranging what amounts to a tryout for a single player." These workouts usually "take place at the practice facility of any team interested in signing that player" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/14). NBC's Ron Mott called it an "unusual move, to say the least," as in-season workouts "typically are quiet events that individual teams organize themselves" ("Nightly News," NBC, 11/13). In Phoenix, Kent Somers asks, "Can anyone remember even one time when the league scheduled basically a combine workout for a single, veteran player?" The NFL likely had a "public relations goal in mind when it extended the invitation to Kaepernick" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/14).
WHO WILL SHOW UP? In N.Y., Ken Belson cites a source as saying that the league has "declined to provide" Kaepernick with a list of which teams will attend the workout. A source said that the NFL "never promised to send Kaepernick a list of people ... but that multiple clubs would be there" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/14). In Boston, Jim McBride writes it is "unlikely any head coaches will be on hand," as it is "both a preparation and/or travel day for most teams." However, Kaepernick still "should have a captive audience" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/14). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg noted a few GMs "may show up, but how many head coaches are going to fly to Atlanta on a Saturday in the middle of the NFL season?" (SI.com, 11/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Frank Schwab wrote teams "will show up." Schwab: "The NFL didn't go through all of this for nobody to show up to a workout it randomly put together and gave Kaepernick two hours to accept" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/13).
UNION KEPT IN DARK: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith said of Kaepernick, "I would be stunned if he didn't get signed because he's good enough to play anywhere in the league." USA TODAY's Mike Jones notes the exact timeline of the league's "decision-making and planning for the workout remains unclear." The NFLPA "was not consulted on the matter" (USA TODAY, 11/14).