I’ll give it to the NFL: They’re some crafty bastards.
First, there was that whole business a few months ago with Jay-Z and Roc Nation forging an entertainment partnership with the league, which might have done more to hurt Jay’s reputation than anything else.
Now, there’s the news that the NFL has scheduled a private pro-day-style workout for Colin Kaepernick. “Workout” is essentially league parlance for an interview, in when Kaep will go in front of team representatives who will measure his fitness and play style to determine if he might be a fit for them.
A number of NFL teams have committed to having representatives at the workout, and Kaep himself seems excited by the opportunity.
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
There’s also musings that Jay-Z, in his new role as the NFL’s negro legitimizer, was instrumental in setting up the whole thing. See, everyone…? It all worked out in the end! Kaepernick is getting his shot and Hov is at the forefront of the new, improved NFL! Everyone wins!
Except, this is the NFL we’re talking about. So, let’s take a closer look.
First, the league asked Kaep on a Tuesday to agree to the event on the following Saturday. A memo was sent to all the teams with an invitation to attend the event, but Kaep himself apparently only had a couple hours to agree to throw away his entire week and back up that Instagram video insisting he’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.
The hook is in the day he was asked to perform: Most of these pro-day workout events are scheduled for Tuesdays, so coaches, managers and the like have clearer schedules. Sunday is game day, so everyone involved with a team spends Saturdays traveling to hotels for away games and preparing for the game. A Saturday event automatically limits who would attend; even Kaep’s people wanted to move it to a Tuesday.
The league invited several select reporters to the “very special event.” Indeed, it is special, because Kaep is the only free agent in the history of the league to have an event like this set up just for him.
Several executives with teams have reached out as a courtesy to Colin Kaepernick’s representatives saying they couldn’t attend Saturday’s workout and were confused by the purpose of the NFL scheduling this workout.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 13, 2019
The absence of the Bears and Bengals from this list is absurd. The fact that this cattle call is happening at all is absurd. You want Kaepernick? Bring him in for a damn Tuesday tryout. https://t.co/dqFfUw4gtB
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 14, 2019
The exigency of the NFL’s approach to this event feels at once forced and contrived, like a woman who believes she’s above dating a certain dude, but she’ll give him a shot anyway as long as everything is on her terms. And if he so much as forgets to open a door, his ass is cut.
Even Eric Reid, who has rocked with Kaep the whole time to his own professional detriment, realizes something is afoot. “I’ll believe it when I see it. At this point, it feels like a PR stunt,” he said of the workout.
The workout “event” suggests that the NFL has finally come around on Kaepernick and is willing to let years of bygones just be. It automatically looks good for them that they’re willing to try. But there’s no guarantee that Kaep will be signed by anyone, even though the Vegas bookies are taking bets on who will take him.
If Kaepernick is not signed, then the league did what it had to do. “See, we tried…what’s the problem?” If, for whatever reason, Kaep doesn’t show up to the training or drops the ball (literally or metaphorically), then the NFL is absolved of blame. “See, we tried with dude and he just couldn’t cut it.”
It’s a thinly-veiled PR move that essentially serves as a win-win for the NFL no matter what happens. Let’s throw these Negroes a crumb or three to keep them off our back and increase viewership numbers. And just for good measure, put it out there that one of the most legendary rappers dead or alive facilitated all of it.
If Kaepernick plays in the NFL again, great for him. But I’m not convinced that this workout event is really for any teams who might be interested in Kaep, since they all had the opportunity to consider the free agent on their own all of this time. We’ll see what happens, but I’m not exactly over here squealing with excitement.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.