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The Kunta Kinte Shirt, The Gestapo-Inspired Workout and Why I’m Done with All of It

The Thinker’s Notebook
By Marlon Rice

Here are the facts:

Three weeks ago, media reps from the NFL began calling around to media outlets. Their message to the outlets, be ready for a breaking story next Tuesday. A week after prepping the media, NFL officials reached out to Colin Kaepernick on the following Tuesday, offering a pro-day style workout to be held in Atlanta four days later, on Saturday. The league gave the Kaepernick camp two hours to return with a decision. The Kaepernick camp accepted the offer, and the league informed the media that the workout was going to happen. Kaepernick tweeted about the workout last Tuesday, saying that he couldn’t wait to workout for the head coaches and GMs.

The nature of the announcement was as peculiar as the date chosen for the workout. In the NFL world, Saturday is a day for intense preparation leading up to the games on Sunday. Coaches and GMs are mostly huddled in a hotel room in whatever city they are playing in, going over the X’s and O’s to ensure their team’s success on Sunday. The last thing any of them want is for a distraction to take them away from the game plan. A Kaepernick workout has distraction written all over it. So, because of the date it was already assumed that there would be no high level team officials at this workout. But, there were other peculiarities as well. The league didn’t notify Kaep of who he’d be throwing to, nor did they give him a basic run of show – a rundown of how the workout and interview would be ran. The most interesting caveat in the process was the workout waiver. This was a waiver that the league demanded that Kaep signed before being able to workout. Now, understand that most free agents that workout for teams do sign waivers, basically for the protection of both player and league in instances of injury during the workout. However, paragraph 7 of Kaep’s waiver held language in it that could be used to not only cancel any further collusion claims but also protect the league against any future legal claims from Kaepernick, including issues of his unemployment as it pertains to the league.

So, Kaep didn’t sign the waiver. Instead, he changed the workout venue and arrived to the workout with a Kunta Kinte shirt on. He performed his workout in front of media and fans, but little to no team officials actually showed up. From all accounts, the workout went well. Kaep still has an NFL level arm.
But here is the chess game in action. First, why would the league feign an offer to Kaepernick to workout for them, only to provide legal jargon in the waiver meant to free them of having to worry about all future legal action? If it was just about having him workout, why not just give him the standard waiver and let him workout? No free agent in the history of the league has ever sued the NFL after having a workout where they didn’t get the job. So, was the league really worried about that, or was it something else? And as for Kaep, his claims that he still wants to play football barely holds water. The CFL has always been a viable alternative to football players wishing to extend or revive their careers. Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, Joe Theismann, Jeff Garcia, each of these QBs flourished in the CFL as either a precursor to or a go-between from their NFL careers. If Kaep really wants to play football, why doesn’t he go to Canada and play football? Furthermore, if he considers himself the new Kunta Kinte, why even consider being re-hired by Massa NFL? He’s rich, he’s a force in the activist community, and he has his health. Why consciously go back to play football for an organization that you liken to slavery?

My belief? The answer to all of this lies not on the football field, but in the field of litigation. In order to continue the battle with the NFL, Kaep needs to continue to express that he wants to play football. As long as they deny him, the NFL proves the claims of discrimination and collusion that Kaep and his team have set forth. This latest attempt by the NFL to offer a fool’s gold-styled workout was nothing more than a way to win the battle through the fine print. As for the Kunta shirt, it only reveals that Kaep sees himself more as an agitator to the league, than a potential employee of the league.
I’m over all of it, but if this interests you, then stay tuned because I’m sure it’s far from over.

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