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The league’s Colin Kaepernick workout arm twisting has worked, to an extent

Mike Florio

The NFL’s statement from Thursday announcing that 11 teams will attend Saturday’s Colin Kaepernick dog-and-pony show about nothing working included this comment: “[T]he league expects additional teams to commit.” It wasn’t clear whether “expects” meant “anticipates” or, you know, “expects”; since then, it’s become more clear that, whatever the intention, the league expects teams to attend.

Apart from the fact that the number more than doubled in a day from 11 to 24, a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells PFT that teams have felt pressure to attend the workout, and to send someone with actual influence in the organization. As a result, a few teams will be sending their Pro Personnel Director (i.e., the chief internal scout responsible for monitoring players currently in the league), since the “Pro Director” is deemed to not being critical to internal operations on an in-season Saturday.

As the source explained it, most teams intended to send low-level lackeys. External criticism of the legitimacy of the process sparked internal pressure to do something more meaningful. Or, more accurately, something that appears more meaningful.

Ultimately, meaningful is the eye of the beholder. Those who have opposed Kaepernick’s ongoing employment in the NFL insist that this is a true and genuine and legitimate opportunity. (Curiously, not many of them seem to be triggered by the fact that the quarterback they love to hate is getting a supposedly true and genuine and legitimate opportunity.) Those who have supported Kaepernick’s case that he’s been shunned for reasons unrelated to football has spotted serious flaws in the league’s approach, starting with the inescapable reality that any team that wants to see what Kaepernick can do can bring him in for a workout at any time — and in more than 32 months no one has.

Still, this feels like it’s something more than an effort to shape and manage P.R. The league quite possibly fears another legal attack from Kaepernick, one that could be much stronger than the first one because the argument in the second case would be that the ongoing cold shoulder is now motivated by the fact that Kaepernick challenged Big Shield and won via settlement an amount reportedly between $1 million and $10 million.