This week Colin Kaepernick was informed that the NFL had opened up an opportunity for him to be evaluated by teams at a private workout over the weekend. In addition, reports have surfaced that hip-hop mogul Jay-Z may have been one of the driving forces behind the development.
However, issues between Kaepernick’s camp and the league over exactly who would be watching him and skepticism over the workout itself have surfaced over the past 24 hours and although it is still scheduled to go on Saturday in Atlanta, it remains shrouded in the same amount of controversy that has followed Kaepernick’s essential barring from the league since the end of his run with the San Francisco 49ers.
Wednesday, while sharing details behind the surprising invitation, NFL.com correspondent Ian Rapoport revealed, “I’m also told that Jay-Z, who is working with the NFL on some social justice initiatives, was involved in this and pushed this idea to some extent.”
Two notes: 1. Jay-Z, a partner with the NFL on social justice, had some influence here. 2. This is not part of Kaepernick’s settlement, nor did he ask for this in his settlement. https://t.co/6l7z3MYJ5x
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 13, 2019
Initially the rapper received a ton of flack not just from fans but also from members of Kaepernick’s inner circle after it was announced that through his company Roc Nation, Jay-Z would be co-producing the Super Bowl Halftime show and also contribute to Inspire Change, a foundation the NFL started in response to public outrage over their mishandling of Kaepernick’s peaceful #TakeTheKnee protest.
Critics accused him of “selling out” for doing business with the league while the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was still essentially being blackballed, they felt, from a league that has not dealt with internal racial issues apparent through Kaepernick’s not having signed with a new team.
It appears the widely criticized deal could possibly have been a trojan horse of sorts meant to address the racial bias issues in the league from the inside. Indeed, on Tuesday, NFL franchises received two separate memos from the league stating that the free-agent quarterback would be available on coming Saturday for the workout session. The teams were invited to check him out, and take footage of Kaepernick to judge whether he’s in shape to hit the field, NFL.com reports.
Still, there are some reported issues between the free-agent quarterback and the league. TMZ Sports said Kaepernick’s camp was supposed to have been given a list of team personnel coming to the workout on Saturday. But an unnamed source from the league told the website that is not true.
“It is completely false that the NFL had agreed at any point to provide a list of personnel executives and coaches that would attend Colin Kaepernick’s work out, simply we had interest as of yesterday at 4 p.m.,” the source said.
“We only started getting confirmations after the memo was sent to all teams. We can confirm that multiple teams have agreed to attend and hope Colin Kaepernick will accept the opportunity.”
ESPN.com confirmed that the NFL will not be releasing to Kaepernick’s team a list of executives and coaches expected to attend the workout. But the teams that are expected to have representatives there include the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Further, some skeptics, most notably Carolina Panthers’ safety and former Kaepernick teammate Eric Reid, said he has his doubts Kaepernick will be signed by any team.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Reid told reporters on Wednesday. “At this point, it feels like a PR stunt.”
Eric Reid on whether he believes the Colin Kaepernick workout is legit: pic.twitter.com/gyAI2WEAV9
— Joe Person (@josephperson) November 13, 2019
Kaepernick, however, says he has been staying in shape the entire time he’s been a free agent, having posted his own workout video on Instagram in August showing him lifting weights and doing calisthenics.
He tweeted his enthusiasm Tuesday about being able to show coaches and managers what he’s got.
I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) November 13, 2019
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.