Jay-Z, Goodell Discussed Helping Kaepernick, Leading To Workout
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z have had many discussions about what the rapper "saw as a need to try to help" Colin Kaepernick "get back into the league," leading to his workout scheduled for Saturday in Atlanta, according to sources cited by Mike Jones of USA TODAY. The sources said that as this season "progressed, Jay-Z has persisted in his stance that the league needed to facilitate Kaepernick's potential return." Goodell, who has "engaged in talks on the matter for some time," was "receptive" to Jay-Z's suggestions. Coupled with the fact that the NFL offices had "received multiple inquiries this season about Kaepernick's physical and mental readiness to play," Goodell "sought ways to remedy the situation." He decided on Satruday's workout "without consultation of high-ranking league officials, the NFL Players Association or Kaepernick's camp." League and union staff "learned of the workouts" on Tuesday "once news broke on Twitter" (USA TODAY, 11/15). THE MMQB's Albert Breer noted former NFL coach Hue Jackson will "run the drills" at the workout in Atlanta, with National Football Scouting President Jeff Foster "overseeing the operation." Jackson said that he "hopes to" speak with Kaepernick before the workout, so that he can "arrange it in a way that both serves" Kaepernick and scouts in attendance (SI.com, 11/14).
WHO IS THIS REALLY FOR? NBC's Craig Melvin said Saturday's workout "would not be a PR stunt, that there's legitimate interest" if the NFL was going to "dust off this controversy that had largely gone quiet" ("Today," NBC, 11/15). However, in Boston, Tara Sullivan writes she "can't help but wonder what's behind the NFL's decision to stage this event, and whether it's truly designed to bring an end to Kaepernick's lengthy exile or whether it's more of a preemptive explanation against future exclusion" of Kaepernick (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/15). In N.Y., Ben Shpigel writes the "conditions of the invitation" for Kaepernick to workout "leave serious doubts as to whether the league has extended it in good faith." If Saturday is a "bust, the NFL can claim it has proof of what it has argued -- that only skill and market interest are keeping Kaepernick out of the game" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/15). In San Antonio, Mike Finger wonders if this "latest plan turns out to be an elaborate public-relations stunt to set up Colin Kaepernick to fail, just to be rid of him once and for all, would it really surprise anyone?" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 11/15). In San Jose, Gary Peterson: "If it looks like a stunt, if it feels like a stunt, if it smells like a stunt, it must be an NFL production" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/15).
LOSE-LOSE SITUATION: In N.Y., Charles McDonald wonders who the workout benefits, as it "clearly does not benefit Kaepernick," who only had 72 hours to get ready. It is a "no-win for the quarterback, who couldn't skip the workout without having people say he's not serious about playing in the NFL again." It also "doesn't even do the NFL any good, either." McDonald: "This was hastily thrown together in a time when no one was even talking about Kaepernick. ... Perhaps the NFL was trying to control the narrative and claim that it did indeed help Kaepernick by giving him this joke of a workout. What the league did instead was remind people about Kaepernick's situation and bring bad publicity to its doorstep" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/15).