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Is Kaepernick Saga Finally Over? NFL Hopes So.


The NFL’s long national nightmare appears to be over and it has nothing to do with head trauma or a defensive lineman swinging a helmet at an opponent.

No, the league has gotten its fondest wish by the fadeout of Colin Kaepernick into total oblivion. And from the NFL’s perspective, the deed is sweeter since it was Kaepernick himself who provided the tool to shovel his own professional grave.

To refresh your memory, Kaepernick committed what, for many, was the sin of using his celebrity as a starting quarterback to speak out against alleged police brutality in this country.

In Kaepernick’s case, his speaking took the form of kneeling during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The act caught fire throughout the NFL as players followed Kaepernick’s lead and took advantage of the forum to present their cases on behalf of people they knew who had been aggrieved by police as well as, in some cases, themselves.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick became a martyr to the cause he was championing. When his contract expired after the 2016 season, he failed to land a spot on any roster the following year and hasn’t played a down since.

Never mind that nearly every team has had a need for a quarterback in the last three years and Kaepernick, who took the 49ers to the 2012 Super Bowl, is likely better than two-thirds of quarterbacks in the league.

The 32-year-old sits and waits for a chance to prove that he can still play. And that chance appeared to present itself a couple of weeks ago, when, out of nowhere, the league organized a workout for teams to get a look at Kaepernick.

The session was hastily convened at the Atlanta Falcons training facility with coaches assembled to run the proceedings and, reportedly as many as 25 of the 32 NFL teams represented.

However, near the time of the workout, Kaepernick and his representatives called an audible, cancelling the session on the grounds that the league was attempting to impose some unacceptable terms.

Kaepernick alleged that the NFL wanted him to sign a document protecting them from a lawsuit and that the league wouldn’t allow the workout to be filmed.

So, he moved the session to another Atlanta location, where the proceedings were recorded, but only a handful of teams showed up.

In the end, Kaepernick won the battle to demonstrate that he can still play as he made all the throws in the video that was made available from his camp.

And he also demonstrated that he would not kowtow to the NFL, which has put his career on ice for nothing more than expressing a right that the anthem represents.

But it’s also entirely possible that Colin Kaepernick lost the war to prove that he belongs in professional football.

The cancellation of the NFL sponsored workout was a thumb in the eye of the league, perhaps the last one its skittish and media conscious ownership will tolerate.

Indeed, the word is that no team has reached out to Kaepernick since the workout. Guess you actually have to want to wake up from a nightmare for it to be over.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening, happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.