Will Colin Kaepernick return to the NFL? Would that be a mistake?

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland, File

Colin Kaepernick put on a throwing exhibition in Michigan over the weekend and it apparently went pretty well. Spike Lee was on hand filming a documentary about Kaepernick’s efforts to return to the NFL as a quarterback.


The quarterback, 34, threw several reps with undrafted receivers during halftime of Saturday’s game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in front of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh — who previously coached Kaepernick during their shared time with the San Francisco 49ers — NFL scouts, and director Spike Lee, according to ESPN.

Lee, 65, is currently filming a documentary for ESPN Films detailing Kaepernick’s attempts to return to the NFL, Variety reported in February.

After the exhibition, Kaepernick spoke to a local reporter saying he was “absolutely” ready to play even after five years out of the game. “I can help make you a better team. I can help you win games,” he said. Whether you believe him or not, he certainly seemed excited about the possibility of returning to the NFL.

So far no one is stepping up to hire Kaepernick but his trainer has claimed he’s been contacted by several teams asking questions about Kaepernick’s condition.


In March, Kaepernick’s trainer David Robinson told TMZ that “at least” five NFL teams have reached out to the quarterback following a training session held earlier in the month.

“A few teams have … asked how his arm looked,” Robinson claimed at the time. “They have reached out and asked about him.”

It’s not hard to see how this would make a great ending for Spike Lee’s documentary but is going back to the NFL at this point really a good idea for someone who has become best known as a social justice activist? Today a Washington Post sports columnist argued this looks like Kaepernick going backwards.

Kaepernick’s trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., was his latest in a nationwide tour of throwing auditions. He says he’s trying to show NFL decision-makers he can still be a quarterback in their league. That even though he’s been out of the game for five years, he can compete, can help a team win a Super Bowl…

This performance should make for compelling drama. But the spectacle of a 34-year-old Kaepernick clawing his way back into a league that abandoned him feels regressive, like a yearning for a less aspirational past…

History will always be kind to the disrupters who caused good trouble and the revolutionaries who stood for something and lost everything. And it will show how Kaepernick overcame and defeated the NFL — its draft combine and power dynamic that he likened to the slave auction block in his Netflix limited series.

But now, watching Kaepernick try his hardest to return to a place he compared to a plantation feels like he’s going backward.


In case you missed it, here’s the scene from Kaepernick’s Netflix documentary (directed by Ava DuVernay) which the Post are referring to. The comparison being made is not subtle.

Over at Outkick, Clay Travis had a similar reaction to Kaepernick’s attempt to rejoin the NFL, albeit without all the praise for his activism. Why would he want to go back to a league he compared to slavery?

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember many slaves becoming hundred millionaires by playing their sport, ie, by being involved in slavery,” Travis said about the ludicrous claim that the NFL is akin to slavery. “I also don’t remember slavery being voluntary. I don’t remember you being able to hold out if you weren’t paid enough money.”…

“Six months ago, (according to Kap’s) Netflix documentary…all NFL players are slaves. This is the equivalent of modern day slavery. And now, he’s begging to be a slave. He’s begging for an opportunity to be a member of the NFL’s slaves. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I don’t know if Kaepernick’s latest attempt to get back into the NFL is going to work but his desire to try and his obvious happiness at the prospect of becoming a starting quarterback again really doesn’t sit well with the version of the NFL presented in that Netflix special. If he does go back, doesn’t that mean his criticism of the league was out of line? And if it was out of line why should anyone want him back? Here’s Clay Travis’ reaction.


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