/After scrapping NFL workout for his own, Colin Kaepernick speaks: Ive been ready for three years, Ive been denied for three years

After scrapping NFL workout for his own, Colin Kaepernick speaks: Ive been ready for three years, Ive been denied for three years

RIVERDALE, Ga. — Colin Kaepernick showed the NFL.

Unhappy with the set-up of a league-organized workout Saturday afternoon, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback canceled that session and instead held his own. He threw for about 45 minutes to Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, Jordan Veasy and Ari Werts, and appeared to get better as the workout went on.

He doesn’t seem to have lost any arm strength, connecting on several deep balls. He did miss on a couple of throws, particularly early in the workout, but it’s not clear whether that was the result of rust, unfamiliarity with the receivers, a flaw of Kaepernick’s or a combination of factors.

It also was impossible to tell how he would perform in an actual game, given that no player faces pressure from a defense in a workout. Still, considering all of the quarterbacks who have been injured this season and the others who have struggled, Kaepernick appeared to prove that he could still compete for a roster spot in the NFL, if not a starting job.

“Our biggest thing with everything today was making sure we had transparency of what went on,” Kaepernick said after the workout. “We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here.

“I’ve been ready for three years, I’ve been denied for three years.”

Wearing a shirt that read “Kunta Kinte,” a reference to the slave in the novel “Roots,” Kaepernick was greeted with cheers when he arrived at Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia. He smiled and raised his fist in acknowledgment at one point.

He was smiling when he finished the workout, exchanging high-fives and handshakes with his receivers before talking to some of the fans who showed up on short notice.

The workout was originally supposed to be at the Atlanta Falcons’ facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia. It was organized by the NFL, and all 32 teams were invited to come and see Kaepernick, who has not played in the league since the end of the 2016 season. It was supposed to be a standard Pro Day-type workout, with Kaepernick going through measurements, drills and interviews with team executives.

But from the start, there were concerns about the organization of the event. Neither Kaepernick nor the teams knew it was in the works, only learning about it Tuesday. Kaepernick reportedly did not know who he would be throwing to, and the NFL did not provide a list of personnel who would be attending the workout as he’d asked.

The NFL did confirm Thursday that 11 teams would have representatives there, and ultimately said he could bring in his own receivers. It also said that Hue Jackson, the former coach of the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns, would run the workout.

The larger sticking point, though, appeared to be over access. Kaepernick wanted the workout open to the media and for his team to be able to film it. The NFL refused, saying it would be filmed by Atlanta Falcons personnel and the video distributed to all 32 teams.

There also was a dispute about the waiver Kaepernick would have had to sign.

Colin Kaepernick worked out for NFL scouts and media members on Saturday in Riverdale, Ga.

So 30 minutes before the NFL’s workout was supposed to begin, Kaepernick announced he would not be attending and would hold his own at the high school.

That set off a frenzy as media and team personnel scrambled to get from the Falcons’ facility to the high school, which was across town. Of the 24 teams that sent people to the NFL workout, at least six also attended Kaepernick’s.

Kaepernick briefly spoke with a few after.

“We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody,” Kaepernick said. “We have nothing to hide. So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people.

“We’re out here, we’re ready to play, ready to go anywhere,” Kaepernick added. “My agent, Jeff Nalley, is ready to talk to any team, I’ll interview with any team at any time. I’ve been ready, I’m staying ready and I’ll continue to be ready.”

Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed by the NFL as punishment for his protests during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality against people of color and economic disparity. The protests created a public relations nightmare for the NFL, especially after President Donald Trump began criticizing Kaepernick and other athletes who protested as a means of riling up his base.

Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, who attended Saturday’s workout in a show of support, sued the league for collusion. The lawsuit was settled in February, but terms of the settlement have never been disclosed.

“We’ll be waiting to hear from Roger Goodell, the NFL, the 32 teams,” Kaepernick said. “We’ll let you know if we hear from them. The ball’s in their court. We’re ready to go.”