Kunta Kinte and Switching Venues: The Truth Behind Colin Kaepernick’s NFL Workout

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Three years since his protest of the national anthem over police brutality spawned controversy, Colin Kaepernick headed to Atlanta this weekend to work out for dozens of NFL teams. But there were some unexpected moments along the way. Below are five things to know about the free-agent quarterback’s time in the A.

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick (left) and Kunta Kinte (right). (Photos: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons)

My name is Kunta Kinte

Kaepernick wore a T-shirt bearing “Roots” character Kunta Kinte’s name, likely to make a stance. The enslaved African was portrayed by LeVar Burton in the 1977 miniseries and refused to be acknowledged by his slave name, Toby. It famously resulted in him getting whipped for repeatedly disobeying his master.

If there were any doubts that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was going to keep up his stance about the way American police interact with Black people, his T-shirt should nix that.

RIVERDALE, GA – NOVEMBER 16: Colin Kaepernick looks on during the Colin Kaepernick NFL workout held at Charles R. Drew High School on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

A big switcheroo

Kaepernick’s Nov. 16 workout was initially set to take place at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, about 45 miles north of Atlanta, but 20 minutes before it was set to occur the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the venue moved to Charles Drew High School in the south metro Atlanta suburb of Riverdale.

Apparently, Kaepernick’s representatives took issue with the pre-arranged work out set up by the NFL as well as conditional insurance claims and lack of media access.

Colin Kaepernick
RIVERDALE, GA – NOVEMBER 16: NFL scouts watch quarterback Colin Kaepernick during a private NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia. Due to disagreements between Kaepernick and the NFL the location of the workout was abruptly changed. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

A fraction of the league showed up

While all 32 NFL teams had been invited to Kaepernick’s workout, The Associated Press reported only eight were there.

Among them were representatives from the Philadelphia Eagles, his former team the San Francisco 49ers, the Detroit Lions, the Kansas City Chiefs, the New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, and the Buffalo Bills, an ESPN reporter tweeted.

Colin Kaepernick
RIVERDALE, GA – NOVEMBER 16: Colin Kaepernick looks to make a pass during a private NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia. Due to disagreements between Kaepernick and the NFL the location of the workout was abruptly changed. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Kaepernick’s throw-heavy ‘elite’ workout

After Kaepernick switched venues for the two-hour workout, he issued a waiver that had drastically different stipulations compared to the document the NFL handed out previously. Sports Illustrated reported a key difference was Kaepernick assuming the risk of physical injury.

Reporters present at the event saw Kaep throw for about 40 minutes, leading an ESPN reporter to tweet that an NFL executive “said his arm talent is ‘elite’ and is the same as when he came out of college. He said that Kaepernick threw the ball well.”

What’s next

The 24 NFL teams who did not send reps to the workout need not worry. Kaep sent all 32 teams videos of his training session. TMZ Sports reported the video, which had been live-streamed on YouTube, was completed within 24 hours and was accompanied by a note explaining he’s ready and open to visit with any team to interview with the typical option to work out if serious interest is generated.

“We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. We’re out here, we’re ready to play, we’re ready to go anywhere,” Kaep said to media following the workout.

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