Colin, Contracts, and Controversy

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Amer Karic- Vision Globe Design

Colin Kaepernick was given a second chance of a lifetime, but the question is: what was the true meaning behind it all?(Photo courtesy of Amer Karic- Vision Globe Design)

Colin Kapernick was last seen in the National Football League (NFL) three years ago. Since then he has been very active in the equal rights movement, but he has also attempted to come back to the NFL. On November 16, 2019, Kaepernick conducted a 40-minute tryout in front of eight NFL scouts and the media to try to entice teams to pick him up. Although this seems subtle, modest, and respectable, it is far from it because there were many moving parts in this outcome.

The originally planned workout was supposed to be held at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility with the workout conducted by Hue Jackson, former Cleveland Browns’ head coach. The workout was supposed to feature a series of drills involving passing and running, and there were supposed to be 22 scouts in attendance while the rest of the teams could watch a recording later.

Kaepernick decided to entertain the offer and do the workout, but a series of outrageous events soon followed making him have to change the location to a local high school a few hours away from the intended location to allow him to have, in his eyes, a fair tryout. The first thing that occurred was that the NFL gave him a contract stating that if he was injured during the workout, he was responsible for paying for his own medical expenses. Although this may seem normal, it isn’t. Due to distrust between the two sides, this contract was extended and signed by Kaepernick since he still wanted the tryout. Typically, this doesn’t happen when a player performs a tryout. 

The next event that occurred was the NFL stating that during the workout no media members would be allowed and the workout wouldn’t be live-streamed either. This means that none of the public would be able to see what happened. Due to the distrust in the league, Kaepernick was afraid that he would be blackballed out of the league again since there wouldn’t be any proof for the public. He was worried that the NFL could put out information saying he didn’t perform well that the public has to believe since there isn’t any conflicting evidence.

These two factors forced Kaepernick to switch his workout only hours before it was held because he wanted transparency between himself and the public, but the NFL wasn’t giving him that. Ultimately, this distrust between the two sides may cost Kaepernick a job as an NFL quarterback, but Kaepernick is okay with that. It showed that he wants to join the NFL on his own terms rather than through a bunch of under the cover agreements.

After everything that has occurred, there are only two sides: those who think that he did the right thing and deserves a job and those who think that he doesn’t care about making it to the NFL and just wanted a publicity stunt to be relevant.

The reason why Colin Kaepernick did the right thing is because he didn’t want there to be a chance that he doesn’t get into the league due to lies. He also doesn’t want to give up his morals. “He isn’t willing to sacrifice any of his principles in order to get back into football… I think that is one of the things that makes him so admirable. This further shows that Colin would rather value his rights over a career,” added Nick Wright, host of First Things First. He ultimately made this decision on his own terms for transparency, and he would much rather be viewed as someone who may not have handled the tryout the “right way” than the guy who wasn’t good enough. As it was once demonstrated through the kneeling of the anthem, he wants things to be fair and respect the league, but he wants to be able to represent who he is as a person. This is extremely respectable in many eyes. Despite what happened, Kaepernick still wanted to get into the league at the end of the day, controversy or not. If he wanted it to just be a path to relevance again, he would’ve made the tryout shorter and would’ve spoken to the media much longer. He had hopes of making the league.

“I believe that he did want to try out. This was his only option and he probably thought if he did well, then somebody who is struggling at quarterback would have to pick him up,” said Clemson University student Drew Byrne.

The other viewpoint is that he just wanted to become relevant again. Although the NFL set up the tryout, Colin Kaepernick was the one who kept changing everything as well as the sudden change in location. Since he did this, it caused more conversations about it and the media would also be present for him to talk to, thus showing he did it to have another platform to relevance with the media. Many people believe that this was the main reason. They add that this is the main reason because he didn’t even perform all that great either. On top of that, they don’t believe that what he did was justified since he was given a second chance to make the NFL again, a chance that most players would die to have.

As Byrne said, “I don’t think it was justified because the NFL would not have made a tryout like this for any other players because they have not in the past.” 

The next event that occurred came after the tryout when he was interviewed. Throughout the interview he had lines that came across either extremely confident or extremely cocky. One line that Kaepernick stated that left the choice up for debate was when he said, “I’ve been ready, I’m staying ready, and I’ll continue to be ready.” Another one was, “I’ve been ready for three years; I’ve been denied for three years.” These lines come across as if he thinks he’s better than everyone else, leaving us to interpret whether or not it is too cocky or just extremely confident.

“I believe he was confident… He is confident of his own abilities and what he can bring to a team because he has had success in the NFL before,” said Byrne, which shows one side of what many people believe. 

“[Colin] was too cocky; he needed to be more humble and sell a good image of himself,” said senior Connor Beaule, which shows the other side. 

As you can see, the decision is split between these two just as it is in the media. At first, I too believed he was too cocky, but I watched it more and evaluated it more, I soon realized he is confident. He is confident that he has established a great work ethic and has had a great run with the 49ers and is just looking for a chance.

The final and most important question is will a team sign him? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Whether he played like Tom Brady or JaMarcus Russell, no one would sign him because no one wants a backup quarterback with so much drama attached to his name. As a quarterback, one should be level-headed as a leader, but the baggage of emotions that comes with him is too much to handle, especially as a backup. Although this is the sad news, it is simply the truth. 

Through all the ups and downs of this event occurring, the sad truth is that none of this will matter, because at the end of it all, no one will sign Colin Kaepernick. The harsh truth is that Kaepernick may have been given a chance, but he was unable to capitalize on it which is exactly what the NFL wanted. They were able to give him a chance to clear any previous “blackballing” claims as well as be able to completely keep Colin out of the league.