Watch CBS News

Colin Kaepernick snubs NFL workout location, hosts own event

Football insiders question Kaepernick workout
Football insiders question why Kaepernick workout is happening now 02:45

Colin Kaepernick abruptly changed the location of his planned NFL workout Saturday afternoon, moving the event to a facility roughly 60 miles away just half an hour before it was expected to begin. In a statement after the workout, the free agent quarterback slammed the NFL for a lack of transparency. 

The workout was originally set for 3 p.m. and was to be held at the Atlanta Falcons' practice facility in Flowery Branch. At 2:30, representatives for the free agent quarterback informed the league that Kaepernick would instead be conducting the workout at 4 p.m. at Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia. 

The workout is meant to be Kaepernick's first step in returning to the NFL, and an opportunity to demonstrate that he still has the skills required to compete at a professional level. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback hasn't played in the league since January 2017, after he was allegedly frozen out of the league for kneeling during the national anthem as a symbol of protest against police brutality and racism. Kaepernick sued the NFL for colluding to keep him out of the league, and the two sides reached a settlement in February. 

Kaepernick arrived at the workout wearing a t-shirt that read "Kunta Kinte," referencing the protagonist of Alex Haley's 1976 novel "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," and the 1977 mini-series of the same name. In the novel and mini-series, Kunta Kinte was a slave brought to America who refused to accept a name from his owner and attempted to escape several times.

Colin Kaepernick NFL Workout
Colin Kaepernick looks to make a pass during a private NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia.  Carmen Mandato / Getty Images

Kaepernick wore the same shirt to a deposition of the late Bob McNair in 2018, which was part of the quarterback's collusion case, according to The Undefeated. Joining Kaepernick on the field were free agents Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, and Jordan Veasy, and the Carolina Panthers' Eric Reid. A video crew for Nike was also on the field.

Kaepernick did not take questions from the media, but did make a brief statement stressing the need for transparency and thanking those in attendance.

"We weren't getting [transparency] elsewhere, so we came out here," Kaepernick said. "It's important that y'all are here. Y'all been attacked for the last three years, y'all continue to be attacked. We appreciate what y'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."

"I've been ready for three years, I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick added. "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, 32 teams, Roger Goodell — all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people." 

Kaepernick's agent Jeff Nalley told reporters that representatives from eight teams attended the event. He would not specify which teams sent representatives, citing their request to keep that information secret. Nalley, like Kaepernick, also claimed the decision to change the venue at the last second was due to a lack of transparency from the NFL. 

Nalley said the NFL would not tell them who asked for the workout and would not agree to allow head coaches or general managers to attend. He also claimed the NFL refused to give Kaepernick the workout drills ahead of time and wouldn't move the workout from Saturday, the day before most NFL games are slated to be played.

Prior to the workout, Kaepernick's agent and lawyer released a joint statement saying the NFL was not providing them with a "legitimate process."

"Most recently, the NFL 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 statement said. 

The statement also said that Kaepernick wanted to bring in his own independent film crew to record the workout and have the session open to media. 

The NFL responded with a statement saying they are "disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout." According to the NFL's statement, 25 teams had sent representatives to the original location.

The NFL also responded to several claims that Kaepernick's team made, saying they "heard for the first time last night, around the same time we heard from Nike, that Colin wanted to bring his own video crew," and "we heard for the first time this afternoon that Colin wanted to open the event to all media." The NFL also characterized the waiver they asked Kaepernick to sign as a "standard liability waiver."

The NFL stated that Kaepernick's decision to hold his own workout would not affect his status, noting "He remains an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any club." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.