N.F.L. Invites Teams to Watch Colin Kaepernick Work Out on Saturday


Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who for nearly three years has struggled to resume his N.F.L. career after kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, has been invited to work out for teams on Saturday at the Atlanta Falcons’ facility so they can evaluate whether to sign him, according to a copy of a memo to the league’s 32 teams that was reviewed by The New York Times.

“Earlier this year, we discussed some possible steps with his representatives, and they recently emphasized his level of preparation and that he is ready to work out for clubs and be interviewed by them,” the memo said. “We have therefore arranged this opportunity for him to work out, and for all clubs to have the opportunity to evaluate his current readiness and level of interest in resuming his N.F.L. career.”

Kaepernick, 32, and his representatives were notified Tuesday of the league’s invitation and were told they had two hours to confirm that he would attend the workout in Flowery Branch, Ga., according to a person familiar with the discussion who requested anonymity. That person said that the representatives were confused about why the workout was slated for a Saturday, when teams travel to away games, and asked that it be moved to a Tuesday, when teams usually hold their workouts, but that request was denied by the league.

The invitation was first reported by ESPN.

Kaepernick’s representatives have requested a list of N.F.L. teams planning to attend, and if they are satisfied with the number, he will work out on the field and do interviews, the person familiar with the discussion said. The memo said that the workout and any interviews would be recorded and the video made available to every team.

On Tuesday evening, Kaepernick tweeted: “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.”

His agent, Jeff Nalley, issued a news release in October stating that Kaepernick had visited Seattle in the spring of 2017 as the Seahawks searched for a backup to Russell Wilson, but that no other team had worked him out or interviewed him. Nalley did not respond to a voice mail message left on his cellphone or to a text message.

For Kaepernick, this weekend could represent his best, and perhaps last, opportunity to play again. N.F.L. teams regularly hold workouts for free agents, cycling them through their facilities as they churn the bottom of their rosters. Teams also hopscotch the country in the spring to assess college prospects before the N.F.L. draft. But none have brought in Kaepernick over the last two seasons, and it is rare for the league, outside of its scouting combine, to hold a workout and invite all 32 teams.

Kaepernick first barged into the national consciousness because of his football skills, showcasing his passing acumen, arm strength and elusiveness after replacing an injured Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starter in 2012 and leading the team to the Super Bowl, which it lost to the Baltimore Ravens. The following season, Kaepernick helped the 49ers reach the N.F.C. championship game.

But by 2016, despite throwing for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while averaging 6.8 yards per rushing attempt, he had become better known as one of the more polarizing athletes — if not public figures — in the country.

While Kaepernick has not been on the field, he has loomed large over the league. Since his departure, several players have emulated his protest during the anthem. Some continue to cite him as an inspiration, and musicians have said they will not perform at the Super Bowl because they believe the league has effectively blackballed Kaepernick.



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