SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
I look forward all week to saying it's time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Colin Kaepernick is an NFL tryout today. Is it for real? And a swing of the helmet ends the season when it lands on a player's head. We're joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT: And good morning, Scott. How are you?
SIMON: I'm fine, thanks. But you're in Atlanta, my friend, for the Colin Kaepernick workout today. He's been out of football for three years - reached in agreement in his collusion case against the NFL. He still really wants to play NFL football, I guess, doesn't he?
BRYANT: Well, that's what it appears to be. There have been so many questions that people have asked about this tryout from the Colin Kaepernick side - why is he doing this after three years in a collusion lawsuit and lots of humiliation and insults from the president? And why would he do this? And I think the bottom line is not very complicated. I think it's very clear. This is his profession. He wants to play football. This has not been a two-way relationship in terms of the NFL. He's always been very clear that he wanted to play in the NFL. And the NFL also made it clear that they didn't want him. So it makes sense that given the opportunity to play, he would come and say he was ready.
SIMON: You're there to cover the event for ESPN, as only you can, my friend. But is it a real workout?
BRYANT: Well, it's going to be a great question. And I think that you have to take it somewhat at face value, even though it's completely unorthodox. Usually when you bring in a player, the teams don't call the NFL. The NFL doesn't set up the workout usually. The team calls the player directly and that player comes directly to that team's facility. And usually, they don't do it on a Saturday before a game day, when a lot of the coaches are preparing for a game tomorrow. And the scouts and GMs are preparing for a game. But on the other hand, this is the first time since Colin Kaepernick last threw a football in the NFL back on January 1, 2017, that he is going to throw a football in front of, you know, live NFL personnel.
SIMON: I have to ask about a brutal scene in Thursday night's game between Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. End of the game Myles Garrett, the defensive end, ripped the helmet off the Steelers' quarterback Mason Rudolph - took that helmet and clubbed him in the head. He's been suspended by the NFL for the rest of the season. Is that enough? I mean, even by the standards of NFL football, this was ugly - even a criminal act.
BRYANT: It certainly was ugly. I don't know if it's a criminal act. It looked awful. I think that...
SIMON: Football criminal act, OK?
BRYANT: Well, you know, what's funny about that, Scott - not really funny in terms of hilarity, obviously. But one, when you watch the play, Rudolph first tries to rip Garrett's helmet off. And he doesn't succeed. So then Garrett gives him a taste of his own medicine by actually succeeding and then going the extra step of hitting him in the face with it or in the side of the head with it.
But I think that what I found most interesting about this, too, was one, that Rudolph - so far - has faced no discipline at all - not even a fine yet. But the other part of it, too, is that the NFL - in terms of all of its violence, in terms of all of its hits - the reason why this was so out of bounds was because Garrett used the helmet as a weapon. But the actual hitting, the actual game is still so violent that it's not even the worst hit we've seen. It's just simply one of the most illegal things that we've seen in the game.
But in terms of actual viciousness, there are so many things that take place inside of those 60 minutes. It'll be very interesting to see how the NFL decides. He's already gone for the final six games of the season. But the suspension is indefinite. They may bring this into next season, as well.
SIMON: ESPN's Howard Bryant, thanks so much.
BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.