Reid hopes it’s a legitimate conduit back into the league, but his gut feeling that “it’s disingenuous” seems right on the mark.
Yet here we are, nearly three years after Kaepernick was exiled from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police violence and racial injustice, with the league seemingly making its first significant step toward giving the quarterback another chance.
On Saturday, the NFL is putting on a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons’ suburban training complex, inviting all 32 teams to send representatives.
But there are plenty of reasons for Reid and others to doubt that the NFL is really sincere about reopening its doors to such a divisive figure.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Reid, the Carolina Panthers safety and a former teammate of Kaepernick’s who joined in the kneeling protest and paid a hefty price himself. “At this point, it feels like a PR stunt.”
The NFL’s offer to arrange the workout came as a total surprise to Kaepernick’s camp and even, supposedly, to one of the league’s most plugged-in owners.
“I have not been part of any discussions with the league about that happening,” said Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. “I was probably as surprised about it as anybody.”
QB was given a mere two hours to accept or reject the proposal. The league turned down his request that the workout be held on a Tuesday — an off day most weeks for NFL teams and normally a time when tryouts are held — or moved back a week or two to give Kaepernick more time to prepare. With the bulk of this week’s games on Sunday, it seems unlikely that any head coaches, general managers or high-level officials will be on hand in Flowery Branch
A person familiar with the workout says the NFL has refused to provide Kaepernick with a list of teams that plan to attend. The person, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the plans haven’t been released publicly, said a couple of teams reached out to the quarterback’s camp as a courtesy, saying they were caught off guard by the timing and couldn’t be there.
Maybe the league didn’t think Kaepernick would go along with such a proposal, giving them a chance to say he had snubbed their entrée back into the league.
But Kaepernick, who as of Wednesday hasn’t taken a snap in the NFL for 1,046 days, desperately wants a platform to show he’s still good enough to play for someone.
Putting the onus back on the league, Kaepernick made it clear he was showing up with an understanding that teams would dispatch those who can actually make decisions.
“I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday,” Kaepernick tweeted.