Colin Kaepernick gets a workout

The National Football League has decided to hold a workout for Colin Kaepernick this coming Saturday. It invited all 32 NFL teams to attend. A number of them have already said they expect to send representatives to the session.

According to various reports contained here, these teams include New England, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, and the New York Giants. Kaepernick says he’s excited and ready to go.

I’m against denying employment opportunities to Kaepernick, or anyone else, because they express unpopular, or even odious, opinions. I don’t know whether Kaepernick was a victim of such a denial, but he might well have been. He’s a better quarterback than many an NFL backup QB, or was during the early years of his “exile.”

It’s extraordinary, though, for the League to hold a special workout for Kaepernick. Any team can bring him in for a session at any time. Thus, there would seem to be no need for the NFL to hold a workout.

It’s also puzzling why teams that did not invite Kaepernick for a workout are attending the one being held by the NFL. If they wanted to see him perform, why didn’t they have him come in?

One possible answer is that these teams were waiting for a signal from the NFL that it’s okay to consider Kaepernick for employment. Another is that teams want to support commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to grant Kaepernick a workout. I lean towards that view.

But why did Goodell suddenly make that decision. Adam Schefter, who covers the NFL for ESPN, says Goodell did it because “he “feels bad” about Kaepernick’s situation.

Maybe. I suspect, though, that Goodell is trying to keep the NFL out of legal difficulty. As I understand it, the settlement of Kaepernick’s initial claim against the League did not include any promise to provide a workout.

However, the settlement also does not bar Kaepernick from filing a new claim alleging that the continuing unwillingness of teams to employ him constitutes retaliation for his earlier action, which netted him a payment, probably sizable, by the NFL. I don’t know how threatening such a claim would be, but it’s plausible to think that the League would prefer not to defend it.

I don’t know the NFL well enough to opine on whether it makes sense for a particular team to sign Kaepernick at this point. The season is more than half over, and it would take a few weeks to get him up to speed in the system of any team that might hire him. Moreover, Kaepernick’s style of quarterbacking isn’t a great fit for some systems. Finally, Kaepernick hasn’t played since the 2016 season.

Accordingly, if teams do offer Kaepernick a spot, it will be interesting to speculate whether it made sense for them to do so given their situation, or whether they were just “taking one” for the NFL. If Kaepernick doesn’t get an offer, his supporters will speculate that the workout was a sham.

In either case, Kaepernick will be back in the news — a political football, as it were, for folks on both sides of the spectrum.

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