After over two years of accusing the NFL of “collusion” against him, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was given a unique chance by the league on Saturday to prove that he deserves a shot back on the field despite the potential distraction the mediocre QB might pose for teams. The anthem-kneeling former player responded by suddenly refusing to attend, instead holding his own workout at a high school with about a third of the number of scouts there, and then accusing the league of “running” from him.
The self-created fiasco has prompted even analysts from the Kaepernick-apologist four-letter network to slap the player-turned-social justice warrior for wanting to “play martyr” rather than “play ball.” The whole debacle also gave Donald Trump Jr. an excuse to work in a dig at his father’s least favorite former QB while celebrating the economic success of his administration.
“Trump has unemployment so low, even Colin Kaepernick got a job interview…” Trump Jr. posted on Instagram Monday along with a picture of his father giving the thumbs up.
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Kaepernick started his league-disrupting protest movement in the preseason of 2016 while he was riding the bench for the 49ers. After the press noticed that he was refusing to stand during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Kaepernick explained that the country did not deserve his respect because it “oppresses” minorities. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” After keeping himself in headlines for the rest of the season and helping lead the team to a dismal 2-14 record, Kaepernick opted for free agency and soon found himself with no suitors. In response, he sued the league for “collusion,” a lawsuit settled in February 2019 for a reportedly disappointing sum.
While his protest of the country was big news in 2016, the issue exploded during the 2017 season when President Trump famously slammed the “son of a b****” players refusing to honor the flag.
The protests have largely died off, only a few players still staying loyal to Kaepernick’s “cause,” including his former teammate safety Eric Reid, now with the Carolina Panthers. The controversy largely over and the lawsuit settled, Kaepernick finally had his big chance this weekend to get back on the field. Instead, he skipped the tryout, which had scouts from 25 teams present, and held his own “publicity stunt” tryout in front of reportedly just eight or so scouts. After his meagerly attended last-second workout at the high school on Saturday, Kaepernick accused the league of “running” rather than vice versa, painting himself, once again, as the victim.
“I’ve been ready for three years. I’ve been denied for three years,” said the former quarterback, who wore a shirt invoking slavery at the event. “We all know why I came out here today and showed it today in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide, so we’re waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. To stop running from the truth. To stop running from the people.”
As The Daily Wire reported, sports analysts from CBS and even ESPN — which has consistently given fawning coverage of Kaepernick — agree that Kaepernick’s attempt to “control the narrative” likely lost him any chance of getting back in the league. Along with fellow ESPN analysts Mike Goulic and Rex Ryan, Stephen A. Smith called out Kaepernick after the stunt. Instead of proving he’s “ready to play” football, as he claimed in front of cameras, the activist just demonstrated that all he’s ready to play is the “martyr,” said Smith.
“So, let me get this straight. Colin Kaepernick has been working out all of this time. Him, people in this camp, his … loved ones – everybody talking about, ‘He wants to play football! He wants to play football! He’s ready to play! Just give him the chance!'” said Smith. “So, what does the NFL do, recognizing that teams need a shield because they need something to hide behind because they know that, guess what, ‘If we bring this brother in for a workout and we don’t like him or we don’t want him, who knows what we’re going to get accused of? We need cover.’ So the NFL provides that … Colin Kaepernick wants to change the venue; Colin Kaepernick wants his own receivers; Colin Kaepernick wants to video things himself; Colin Kaepernick wants the media. This Colin Kaepernick, media can’t find him! He ain’t done no interviews; he ain’t talked to nobody; media can’t find him – but he wants the media available now. You see? You see? He don’t want to play; he wants to be a martyr. But guess what? It ain’t working this time.”
CBS’s “The NFL Today” host James Brown made similar comments. “Colin Kaepernick missed the opportunity, both to return to play and more meaningfully to further impact social justice on the broader and the bigger platform of the NFL,” he said. “It’s also abundantly clear, however, that there is mutual distrust in the relationship between Kaepernick and the league, its office, owners and teams as evidenced by yesterday’s fiasco. But that notwithstanding, it was an opportunity, no matter how you cut it, to build a bridge toward a return to the league. 25 teams expressed their interest to come see the workout and he didn’t take advantage of it. Now, history has shown that to move forward, it is most effectively done inclusively to move from protest to progress and this was a moment missed.”