Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick will work out for representatives from at least two dozen NFL teams in Atlanta on Saturday, even as the league’s decision to arrange the event sparks ongoing skepticism from critics.
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Set to begin at 3 p.m. ET, the private workout will consist of an interview followed by on-field drills, according to a memo distributed to all 32 teams earlier this week and obtained by FOX Business. Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson will lead the drills, while Kaepernick is bringing former NFL wide receivers who volunteered to participate, according to multiple reports.
More than 24 teams were set to attend in some capacity as of Friday afternoon, according to ESPN. The NFL has confirmed 11 teams – the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins – who plan to have representatives in attendance.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he gained international fame for leading national anthem protests against police brutality and social injustice in the U.S. The 32-year-old quarterback and his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, Eric Reid, reached a financial settlement with the league earlier this year after they alleged that the NFL’s 32 teams conspired to keep them off the field over their role in the protests.
Reid, who plays for the Carolina Panthers, is one of several critics to express skepticism that Kaepernick’s league-arranged workout is a genuine path back to the NFL.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Reid told reporters on Wednesday. “At this point, it feels like a PR stunt.”
The skepticism has made its way onto the usual channels of social media and sports talk radio. However, respected sportscaster Dan Patrick – the former primetime host for NBC's "Football Night in America" – suggested on his radio show that larger forces may be at play.
In August, rap impresario Jay-Z announced a partnership between his Roc Nation entertainment company and the NFL. The deal called for Jay-Z to make the Super Bowl halftime show more current and to ramp up the league's social justice program platform.
"I think we're past kneeling. I think it's time for action," Jay-Z said at the time, referring to Kapernick's protest and his NFL deal. But many critics saw it as a betrayal of Kapernick.
The league memo said NFL officials arranged the private workout after several NFL teams inquired about Kaepernick’s football conditioning and desire to return to the league. The invitation reportedly left several high-level NFL executives confused about the purpose of the workout.
Kaepernick’s representatives and league officials also clashed over details related to the workout. The NFL reportedly declined a request to hold the workout on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday, when top officials from most teams have already traveled to their destinations for games on Sunday.
Kaepernick’s camp was also said to have requested a list of executives who planned to attend the workout. A league source said the NFL never promised to provide that list.
Footage of Kaepernick’s workout and interview will be made available to all 32 NFL teams, the memo said. The event will take place at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility.