The unofficial blackballing from the NFL of Colin Kaepernick is well documented. The former 49ers’ QB, hasn’t stepped foot on an NFL gridiron for three years now, and both he and his supporters haven’t forgotten.
Kap’s name resurfaced again earlier this week when Jay-Z and Roc Nation announced a partnership with the NFL that revolved around entertainment and social justice. While the news seemed to be promising to some, it wasn’t for all.
Hot 97 personality and Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa, The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, current NFL player Eric Reid and others blasted Hov, accusing him of throwing Kap and his supporters under the bus for a money grab.
— NESSA (@nessnitty) August 14, 2019
“Jay-Z has given the NFL exactly what it wanted: guilt-free access to black audiences, culture, entertainers, and influencers.” wrote The Atlantic’s Hill.
“I also understand that to become hip-hop’s first billionaire, Jay-Z didn’t always have the luxury of avoiding relationships and partnerships with people he disagreed with or disliked.”
“But in this case, Jay-Z isn’t getting enough out of the deal to justify the sacrifice of some of his credibility. This alliance plays right into the NFL’s hands because the league seems determined to banish any memory of Kaepernick with its recent social-justice efforts—even though it’s likely that Jay-Z and the NFL wouldn’t even be entering into this arrangement if Kaepernick hadn’t taken a knee in 2016.”
Reid chimed in, bringing attention to Miami Dolphins’ owner, Stephen Ross, who was blasted after hosting an expensive fundraiser for Trump last week. Ross is also the founder of RISE, an organization dedicated to fighting racism in sports.
“Interesting timing on the partnership with Jay-Z on the heels of Stephen Ross’ fundraiser for Donald Trump and the backlash his other companies are getting because of it. #PayAttentionFolks” wrote Reid in a Tweet.
Jay-Z addressed the heat he was getting and posed a question to his detractors.
Jay Z on kneeling vs standing pic.twitter.com/2hFQ1NrutP
— KingRablo (@RichardJAdkins) August 15, 2019
“I think we’re passed kneeling and I think it’s time to go into action,” he said. “I’m not minimizing that part of it. That has to happen. That’s a necessary part of the process. Now we all know what’s going on. What are we going to do? The kneeling was not about the job, it was about injustice. Let me bring attention to injustice. Everyone is saying how are you going forward if Kap doesn’t have a job.
“This wasn’t about him not having a job. That became part of it. That became part of the discussion. He was kneeling to bring attention to injustice. We know what it is. Now it’s about how do we address that injustice? What’s the way forward? Anyone have any other suggestions about what’s the way forward?”
Gotta Hear Both Sides
Not all of Black media were anti-Hov and the NFL, with some taking a different approach and analyzing the situation as one of positivity, viewing Hov’s partnership as one that could open the door for future movement and opportunities.
"Wasn't that the goal that Colin Kaepernick had?"
— First Take (@FirstTake) August 15, 2019
“If Jay-Z decides to collaborate with the NFL, and use the strong arm of the NFL to impact communities, disenfranchised communities, throughout our nation, in a very, very positive way, then, excuse me, wasn’t that the goal that Colin Kaepernick had?” said Stephen A. Smith on First Take.
“Wasn’t that the goal that Eric Reid had? Wasn’t that the goal that a plethora of other people who supported them had?” It wasn’t about getting Colin Kaepernick back in the NFL. It was about making sure that the issues that Colin Kaepernick illuminated for all of us were being addressed. And if those things are being addressed, then that was the ultimate goal.”
Jalen Rose, who is signed to Roc Nation, echoed some of that sentiment, while also giving a nod to hip-hop’s role in what the move consisted of.
“For those that heard the lyric, Jay-Z saying, that he was ‘going to overcharge people for what they did to the Cold Crush.’ It’s actually happening.”
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) August 14, 2019
“It creates a level of validity [for the NFL],” continued Rose. “A level of credibility. And it’s not an apology, and it’s not an admission of guilt for the NFL to be doing this.
“It’s just an opportunity to bridge a gap and Jay-Z has created the level of autonomy, becoming a mogul, to be able to now push this and take it a step forward and carry the baton to bring all sides into the room and create a level of credibility that benefits all involved.”
“What More Can I Say”
While there are varying sides to Jay-Z’s decision to come together with the NFL, only time will tell as to where Hov’s plan will align.
Due to the non-involvement of Kaepernick, it’s a charged issue, one that will take time to judge as this partnership, and the actions taken, will not unfold overnight.
Touted as a shrewd businessman Hov has always had a plan. All you have to do is listen to the lyrics he spits on “What More Can I Say” and you’ll understand. But after this announcement and ensuing backlash, does he now have beef with Colin Kaepernick? While that’s to be determined, there’s a huge and very public disconnect that has many at odds with each other.
But if he can reconcile with Nas after the “Takeover” vs. “Ether” battle, it seems reasonable to think that these two brilliant men can come together and squash things.
In the meantime, all we can do is wait.