Times news services
RIVERDALE, Ga. — Colin Kaepernick threw passes for about 40 minutes on a high school field, then signed autographs for hundreds of fans who gathered in an end zone to watch his NFL workout that was suddenly moved Saturday, the latest strange twist in the saga of the exiled quarterback.
Kaepernick was initially scheduled to work out for 25 teams, including the Bucs, at the Falcons’ training complex in Flowery Branch, Ga. But his representatives announced the workout would be moved to Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, about 60 miles away, less than an hour before its scheduled start, and after many of the team representatives had already arrived at the Falcons’ complex.
Kaepernick’s representatives said they called the audible so journalists could watch and videotape the workout, adding the shift was prompted “because of recent decisions made by the NFL.” The league had declared the extraordinary workout would be closed to the media.
“Based on the prior conduct by the NFL league office, Mr. Kaepernick simply asks for a transparent and open process, which is why a new location has been selected for today,” the representatives said in a statement.
Kaepernick’s representatives also said the NFL “demanded” as a precondition for the workout that he sign an “unusual liability waiver.”
The league said in a statement that it told Kaepernick’s representatives that as happens at the scouting combine, a video crew would record the workout and an interview, and distribute an edited video to all 32 teams. The teams also would get all the raw footage from the event, the league said.
“(Kaepernick) refused to allow NFL to videotape the workout with his reps overseeing,” the league said.
Also, the league said, it agreed Friday night to a Kaepernick-approved request that Nike be able to film a commercial at the workout. And Kaepernick had been asked to sign a standard waiver, the NFL said.
The league said it hadn’t heard of any unhappiness from Kaepernick’s side — including the request that the media be present — until a few hours before the scheduled workout at the Falcons’ complex.
“Colin’s decision has no effect on his status in the league. He remains an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any club,” the NFL said.
CBS Sports reported that seven teams made it to the relocated workout: the Eagles, Chiefs, Jets, Titans, 49ers, Lions and Washington. Kaepernick thanked them all for coming.
The team representatives stood along the sideline, jotting into their notepads as Kaepernick tossed passes to four free-agent receivers: Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, Jordan Veasy and Ari Werts.
“Our biggest thing with everything today was to make sure we had transparency in what went on,” Kaepernick said afterward. “We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here.”
Kaepernick hasn’t played since the 2016 season with the 49ers, when he started kneeling during the national anthem before games to bring attention to social justice issues. He says he has been blackballed over his kneeling. The NFL in February settled a collusion grievance filed by Kaepernick and Panthers safety Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick in kneeling when both were with the 49ers.
Kaepernick, who worked out in a tank top and shorts, has clearly kept himself in good shape during his near three-year layoff. His passes had zip on them, though he was a bit off target on his deep throws.
Kaepernick has insisted all along that everyone knows he is good enough to play in the NFL.
“I’ve been ready for three years,” he said. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why. I came out here (Saturday) and showed it in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide. We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, (commissioner) Roger Goodell to stop running, to stop running from the truth, to stop running from the people.”
Kaepernick did not take questions from at least 50 media members who scrambled to get to Riverdale.