Colin Kaepernick was roundly criticized by NFL analysts and TV pundits over the weekend following changes he made to a planned workout for teams. But he received a strong backing from at least one former quarterback.
Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb defended Kaepernick’s decision to move the Saturday workout, which had been organized by the NFL and was to take place at the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility, to his own setup at a high school about an hour away. At issue was a liability waiver Kaepernick deemed “unusual” and a blackout the NFL wanted to impose on Kaepernick’s ability to film the workout, all of which McNabb summed up as “garbage.”
“If my agent is setting up a workout for me for teams, we need to know what teams are coming, we’re picking the location, and we’re pretty much having it on Monday or Tuesday,” McNabb said during his Monday appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic. “We’re not going to have this on Saturday, when everyone’s getting ready for football games on Sunday. That makes no sense.”
Also at issue was the level of transparency the NFL agreed to offer Kaepernick. The league initially said 25 teams would be in attendance to watch Kaepernick, and the NFL wanted to bar the media from covering the session. But according to the Associated Press, just eight teams showed up to watch his 40-minute workout, which ultimately was open to the media. Among the NFL executives in attendance was Eagles vice president of football operations Andrew Berry.
The NFL said in a statement Sunday evening it was “disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout,” but McNabb wasn’t buying the league’s explanation.
“The NFL tried to control everything,” McNabb said. “And it really made them look bad, but now it’s trying to come back on Colin Kaepernick, [because] people are saying, ‘Well, he never really wanted to play, anyway.’ “
McNabb was certainly an outlier as far as NFL pundits go. Most of the Sunday morning pregame shows either devoted little time to the subject or tilted their opinions in favor of the NFL. That was especially true on The NFL Today on CBS, where only former wide receiver Nate Burleson even attempted to offer Kaepernick’s side of the argument.
“I sat there and said why is he having this now? It is Week 11. It is about the platform,” said former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. “He does not like football. It is not important to him. He loves the platform.”
Cowher was far from alone in his criticism of Kaepernick. His CBS colleague Boomer Esiason called Kaepernick’s actions a “shakedown.” NBC Sports’ Tony Dungy wondered how badly Kaepernick really wanted to play in the NFL. And ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Kaepernick’s motives weren’t honest.
“He wants to be a martyr. But, guess what? It ain’t working this time," Smith said in a three-minute rant posted on Twitter over the weekend.
While sports networks like ESPN and the NFL Network largely steered clear of Kaepernick’s workout Monday morning (not surprising after a Sunday filled with games), Fox News featured coverage of the back-and-forth at the top of its website.
“I’ve been ready for three years,” Kaepernick told reporters following his workout. “I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why. I came out here today and showed it in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide.”