On Waivers and Tryouts

By now everyone has heard about Colin Kaepernick’s NFL tryout and all the foofaraw that surrounds it. So I’d like to talk about one specific part of the whole thing: the waiver they asked him to sign.

But before that I’m going to quickly lay out my thoughts on some of the other aspects:

  • Asking a player to come in for a tryout with no notice to fill a position of need: Normal but kinda a dumb way to see how good someone is.
  • Doing that to a really high profile player in a PR battle with the league: Shady as hell.
  • Doing it with all teams there no matter who actually could use said player: PR stunt with designed to both not get the player on a team and not have one team take all the blame.
  • Doing it on a day where the actual coaches aren’t going to be there to see anything: no clue how often coaches come to tryouts instead of sending scouts.
  • Kaep wanting to film it: good call because it prevents the league from just claiming he sucked.
  • League not wanting it filmed by Kaep: if it’s in good faith, what’re you hiding?
  • Kaep doing it at a high school field anyway: where else should he have gone?
  • Some teams showing up to the high school field tryout: shocking and maybe there is actual interest in him coming back.

So with that aside, I’d like to talk about the waiver they wanted him to sign. For any event like this, the league would be insane not to have him sign a waiver beforehand. These days waivers are everywhere, you’ve probably agreed to two already today. Some are probably enforceable, like the one on the back of your baseball ticket telling you that when you get hit in the face by a foul ball it’s on you. Some are probably not, like the one saying you can’t sue the skydiving company for sending you up with a drunk and blind pilot.

So what was strange about this one? Allegedly, the NFL tried to include a clause preventing Kaep from suing the league and teams for anything at all including collusion. Had he signed, that would be the end of it. He’d throw a couple passes, be told that he just wasn’t good enough anymore, and be out of options. Unless the XFL decided that suddenly they didn’t care about the protest, he’d be done with football. So essentially they asked him to give up all his legal remedies in exchange for letting the league have a PR stunt at his expense.

But why would they possibly think he would agree to that? I can think of a couple of options off the top of my head.

First, they didn’t care if he came at all. Just the announcement was enough and his refusal to go along with it gave them every thing they wanted. From Stephen C- Smith to your local MAGA CHUD, everyone now gets to say it’s Kaep who refused to play and not the NFL blackballing him. It also gives Jay Z a way to pretend he’s not trading his soul for a quick buck. That’s as much of a PR win as they could have hoped for, and maybe helps another really rich guy sleep at night.

Second, they might have just been hoping he’d sign it without reading that part. Remember, this was sprung on him with no notice. It’s possible they just thought there might be a chance he’d jump at the tryout and wouldn’t have time to properly vet the agreement before signing it. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of the last dozen or so waivers I’ve agreed to, maybe he wouldn’t either. And it’s not like they had anything to lose by trying it. People who think it was a scummy tactic are probably people who already think the league is scummy. Again, nothing to lose.

So TLDR: Waivers probably enforceable, Kaep smart not to sign, NFL clever to try but gross but no one cares. And Fuck Stephen C- Smith.

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