Attorney Mark Geragos, who represents Colin Kaepernick, said neither Jay-Z nor the NFL reached out to his client during discussions of a controversial new partnership.
Geragos describes the Jay-Z-NFL deal as cold-blooded, according to ABC News.
“I can confirm to you that the deal was already done prior to any conversation that (Kaepernick) had with Jay-Z and he certainly didn’t have any conversations with the NFL,” Geragos said. “This deal between Jay-Z and the NFL crosses the intellectual picket line”
Over the past three seasons, the NFL has faced a backlash over its handling of protests against police brutality and players who take a knee, prompting boycotts of games from both sides.
Jay-Z became a lightning rod for a new round of backlash after entering into a controversial partnership with the NFL last week that does not include Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started a movement by kneeling.
Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, will become the NFL’s live music entertainment strategist, co-producing the Super Bowl halftime shows. The NFL wants the entertainment to tie into its “Inspire Change” program — a social justice initiative widely seen as trying to clean up the self-inflicted mess from its mishandling of the protests.
The Jay-Z-NFL deal announcement follows three years of conflict after football players led by Kaepernick began kneeling at games during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism.
Kaepernick has accused the NFL and its owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. In February 2019 Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL but remains out of the league.
During the press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Jay-Z said that he had spoken to Kaepernick before announcing the NFL deal.
Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa, called out Jay-Z for lying about speaking to her man.
Social media criticism has revolved around why Kaepernick wasn’t included in the deal.
“The irony,” @TheRealDelsonJ tweeted. “Out of all the organizations in the WORLD, you pick the one organization that punished those who protested against social injustices …. To fight against social injustices???”
At the Jay-Z-NFL deal press conference, the media was not allowed to videotape, photograph or live-post to social media. Audio recording and photos were allowed during the Q&A that followed.
Asked if he had spoken with Kaepernick, Jay-Z said “Yes.”
Asked if Kaepernick was supportive of it, Jay-Z replied, “I would never tell you what me and Kaep’s private conversation was about, but we spoke, yeah.”
Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016. He was the first NFL player to take a knee during the National Anthem on Aug. 14, 2016. Other athletes followed including then-teammate Eric Reid, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers and has slammed Jay-Z and the NFL over the deal.
“We never advocated for Colin to lose his job while we fought against systemic oppression,” Reid wrote in a series of tweets. “That’s unjust, and where the NFL inserted itself into this. Now the NFL is ‘championing’ social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing Colin. So we will fight to get Colin’s job back as well.
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“Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who’ve committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community,” Reid added.
At the press conference, Jay-Z said, “I think we’ve passed kneeling … I think it’s time to go into actionable items.”
Kaepernick has not directly addressed the Jay-Z-NFL deal, but on Saturday tweeted a photo with Reid, Miami Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson taking a knee.
“My Brothers @E_Reid35 @KSTiLLS @iThinkIsee12 continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats,” Kaepernick tweeted. “They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!!”
Jay-Z supported Kaepernick and the protests, but defended his deal with the NFL. During the press conference, he said he is “not minimizing” the protests but they were about injustice, “not about a job.”
“Let me bring attention to injustice. Everyone’s saying, ‘How are you going forward if Kaep doesn’t have a job.’ This wasn’t about him having a job,” Jay-Z said. “That became a part of the discussion. He was kneeling to bring attention to injustice. We know what it is. Now how do we address the injustice?”
The hip-hop community appears to be split over whether the deal was the right call. Artists Cardi B and DJ Khaled have supported the effort, ABC News reported.
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