Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is hitting the field Saturday afternoon for a private training session hosted by the NFL, nearly three years after he was last on a team.
The 32-year-old free agent confirmed the workout in a tweet on Tuesday saying he’s “been in shape and ready for this for 3 years.”
The NFL said in a statement Thursday that 11 teams have committed to attend Kaepernick’s workout. They are Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, and Washington.
By Saturday afternoon, that number had increased to 25.
“We are looking forward to Saturday’s workout with Colin,” the NFL said in its statement, adding that a video of the session and an interview with Kaepernick will be sent to all 32 teams in the league.
On Saturday morning, the hashtag “StillWithKap” began trending on Twitter as celebrities and fans wished the free agent good luck.
Kaepernick’s former teammate, Eric Reid, however, expressed concern that the NFL arranging a workout for the former quarterback was a publicity stunt.
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During a locker room interview with reporters on Wednesday, Reid — who was wearing a black T-shirt with the hashtag “IMWITHKAP” on it — said: “Every move that the NFL has made up until this point has been PR for them, has been disingenuous, and I don’t think that this is any different.”
“But, we’ll see what happens,” Reid, a safety for the Carolina Panthers, said in the on-camera interview, published by the Charlotte Observer.
The workout, which the NFL arranged, will start at 4 p.m. and was originally going to be held at the Atlanta Falcons training facility in Flowery Branch, but was later changed to a location about 44 miles away in Atlanta.
A statement from attorney Ben Meiselas and agent Jeff Nalley on behalf of Kaepernick said the change was due to “recent decisions made by the NFL.”
“From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one,” the statement read.
According to Meiselas and Nalley, the NFL demanded Kaepernick “sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury” that the athlete’s representatives proposed.
Kaepernick had also asked that media and an independent film crew be allowed to attend the workout “to ensure transparency.” Originally, the training session was closed to the media but with the venue change, they will be allowed to attend.
The training session will include an interview opportunity followed by an on-field workout.
Former NFL head coach Hue Jackson will lead the workout, the league said. Jackson told ESPN that the NFL asked him to lead the drills and he’s “excited” to do it.
Both supporters of Kaepernick and critics were out Saturday with large signs. A number of Kappa Alpha Psi members were also outside the Falcons’ facility to show their support for Kaepernick, who is a member of the historically black fraternity.
“California says thank you Atlanta Falcons for giving Colin Kaepernick a 2nd chance,” one man’s poster read.
Another man outside the training facility had a sign that read “stand up for the flag.” He said he wasn’t there “to disparage anybody.”
“I’m simply here to lift up the big, beautiful American flag,” he said.
Kaepernick has not been signed by any team since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017 to become a free agent. The athlete made headlines during the 2016 season for kneeling during the National Anthem before games to protest systematic racism.
The action led to intense backlash, including from President Donald Trump who repeatedly tweeted his criticism of Kaepernick and other athletes for taking a knee. In a 2017 interview, Trump suggested that if the NFL would have suspended Kaepernick it would have stopped him from kneeling.
Kaepernick and Reid, who was also on the 49ers then and who joined in kneeling, filed grievances against the NFL for allegedly colluding against them to keep them from playing. In February, the NFL settled the cases with the two athletes.