Colin Kaepernick on Saturday strode over to a flock of reporters gathered on a bizarre day during which the free-agent quarterback skipped an NFL-sponsored workout and held one of his own.
He had a message for the league: The ball is in their court, so to speak.
“So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, (Commissioner) Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running,” said the 32-year-old, who hasn’t played in nearly three years following a season in which he protested social injustice by refusing to stand for the National Anthem. “Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people.”
The league said in a statement that Kaepernick called officials at 2:30 p.m. ET, saying he would not appear at a workout set up by the league at the practice facility for the Atlanta Falcons. The quarterback, instead, held a session in Riverdale, south of Atlanta. About 300 fans — and at least six scouts — came to see him.
Representatives for Kaepernick said their client had asked for the session to be open to the media and the NFL had balked. Agent Jeff Nalley and attorney Ben Meiselas also said Kaepernick had been denied being able to have his own film crew.
“From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one,” Kaepernick’s reps said in a statement.
Kaepernick indicated the workout was moved because he wanted more people to see what had happened at the workout.
“Our biggest thing with everything today was making sure we had transparency in what went on. We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here,” he said.
His camp also was upset with the liability waiver the NFL wanted the player to sign, saying it was “unusual” and “addresses employment-related issues.” They said the NFL rejected the standard waiver they had proposed.
The NFL said the waiver it sent was the one used by NFL teams to sign free agents and at the combines for draft prospects.
“At noon today, Colin’s representatives sent a completely rewritten and insufficient waiver,” the NFL said Saturday.
“The NFL made considerable effort to work cooperatively with Colin’s representatives,” the league said. “Today’s session was designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants — an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL.”
Teams notified this week about workout
The NFL sent a memo Tuesday about the workout for the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback to its 32 teams, ESPN first reported.
According to another source, several NFL teams inquired about the athlete-turned-activist’s “football readiness” and desire to return to the league.
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the league since the 2016 season — the same season he first sat during the playing of the anthem. The protest evolved into kneeling after onetime Seattle Seahawk and Green Beret Nate Boyer convinced Kaepernick it would be more respectful to the nation’s military, the quarterback has said.
Kaepernick said he did so to protest police shootings of African American men and other social injustices faced by black people in the United States.
He became a free agent in 2017. No team offered him a contract, and that October, he filed a grievance against the league, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him from being signed. The NFL denied any collusion. Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid, who knelt with Kaepernick, settled their cases.
Earlier this year, Kaepernick posted videos of himself on Twitter, taking part in weight training and throwing footballs.
Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl, played his last game on January 1, 2017, in the 49ers’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks. During that season, in which the 49ers were 2-14, Kaepernick threw 16 touchdowns and had four interceptions. He rushed for 468 yards on 69 attempts.
He opted out of his contract after the season and has been a free agent since.