Colin Kaepernick continued his bid to return to the NFL on Saturday, working out in front of talent evaluators at an Atlanta-area high school after his representatives moved and rescheduled the session because of ongoing disagreements with the league over the details of the audition.
Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, showed off a strong arm as he threw footballs to a hand-selected group of receivers. In pointed remarks after the workout, Kaepernick, 32, said he hopes to be given an opportunity to return to the league that has shunned him, properly or not, since he last played for the 49ers in the 2016 season.
“I’ve been ready for three years,” Kaepernick said. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why. I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running — stop running from the truth, stop running from the people.”
Kaepernick spoke to a group of journalists and supporters and said that he and his agent were ready.
“We’re out here,” he said. “We’re ready to play. We’re ready to go anywhere. My agent, Jeff Nalley, is ready to talk to any team. I’ll interview with any team at any time. I’ve been ready. I’ve stayed ready. And I’ll continue to be ready. All the people that came out here today to support, I appreciate y’all. I love y’all.
“To the people that aren’t here, I’m thinking of you. I appreciate your support from where you are. We’ll continue to give you updates as we hear. We’ll be waiting to hear from Roger Goodell, the NFL and the 32 teams. We’ll let you know if we hear from them. The ball’s in their court. We’re ready to go.”
During the 2016 season, Kaepernick began the movement of NFL players protesting during the national anthem. He did not stand for the anthem to bring attention to racial inequality and police mistreatment of African-Americans.
Earlier this year, Kaepernick reached a settlement with the league and its teams of the collusion grievance he brought accusing them of conspiring, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, to keep him out of the league.
“Our biggest thing with everything today was making sure we had transparency in what went on,” he said Saturday. “We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here. It’s important that you all are here. You all have been attacked for the last three years. You all continue to be attacked. We appreciate what you all do. We appreciate you being here today. We appreciate the work you do for the people in telling the truth. That’s what we want in everything.”
Kaepernick’s rescheduled workout took place at Charles R. Drew High in Riverdale, Georgia, with representatives of an estimated half-dozen NFL teams on hand. Those teams, according to reports, included the Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. The NFL said that representatives of 25 teams had been scheduled to attend the workout it had arranged for earlier Saturday at the Atlanta Falcons’ training complex in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
According to the Athletic, Kaepernick told a group of scouts from the Redskins, Jets and Chiefs: “When you go back, tell your owners to stop being scared.”
Kaepernick threw passes to a group of receivers that included former NFL players Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler and Jordan Veasy. Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former 49ers teammate, was reportedly among those watching.
He threw the ball crisply and connected on some deep passes during throwing drills that included no defenders.
Former scout Daniel Jeremiah, now an analyst for the NFL Network, wrote on Twitter that he watched 10 to 12 minutes of the workout online.
“He looked similar to what he’s been,” Jeremiah wrote. “Plenty of velocity, inconsist[ent] touch/feel. Looked a little gassed. Tough to gauge more than that from video I was watching.”
After the workout, Kaepernick took photos on the field with his receivers. He left the field and signed autographs for fans.
Kaepernick’s representatives announced earlier Saturday that the workout would be rescheduled and moved. They wanted the session open to the media, unlike the NFL, and they objected to the version of a liability waiver that the league wanted Kaepernick to sign.
“From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one,” Nalley, Kaepernick’s agent, and attorney Ben Meiselas said in a written statement.
Nalley and Meiselas said in their statement that the league rejected their request to have the originally scheduled workout open to the media. The NFL, they said, also “has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives.”
The NFL said that it had asked Kaepernick to sign a standard liability waiver and had been working with Kaepernick’s representatives to accommodate as many of his requests as possible.
The league said in a written statement it was “disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout” and added that the session was “designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants — an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL.”
The NFL said that all 32 teams would have received video of the originally scheduled workout and interview. That would have been shot by the Falcons’ film crew, according to the league.
The league said it invited Kaepernick’s agent to suggest questions for the interview and agreed to a request by Kaepernick’s representatives for him to bring his own receivers to the originally scheduled workout, which was to have been run by former NFL head coaches Hue Jackson and Joe Philbin. Jackson discussed the drills that would have been run with Kaepernick’s agent, the league said.
The NFL said it agreed to a request made Friday night by Nike, with Kaepernick’s approval, to shoot an ad mentioning the teams present. The league said it heard for the first time Friday night that Kaepernick wanted to bring his own film crew and for the first time Saturday that he wanted the event open to the media. According to the NFL, it agreed to allow Kaepernick’s representatives to be on the field to allow them to see how the event would have been recorded.
The league said it wanted Kaeepernick to sign “a standard liability waiver” used at the scouting combine and by teams when working out free agents. Kaepernick’s representatives countered with “a completely rewritten and insufficient waiver,” according to the NFL.
The NFL said it “made considerable effort to work cooperatively with Colin’s representatives.”
“Colin’s decision has no effect on his status in the League,” the NFL’s statement said. “He remains an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any club.”