Sports

Kaepernick works out thanks to Jay-Z

When Jay-Z first partnered with the NFL in Aug. of this year, the backlash to his association with such a damaged brand (in terms of social justice), was furious, and partially justified. Why would such a venerated mogul and legend of hip hop even think about working with the devil incarnate of sports leagues? What does he expect to achieve and how does he expect to achieve it? With the rather discordant nature that his partnership with the NFL appeared to possess, it seemed that Mr. Carter was living up to the famous lyric he once spat around 14 years ago, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a Business, man!” A partnership with the NFL would make hip hop’s first billionaire much, much richer and amplify his influence to a level that is almost inconceivable. A mere two months ago, Jay-Z seemed like a traitor to the progressive policies that he has espoused, and thus have been expected of him. Jay-Z was a sellout like the rest of them, and I, the plebian fan, had no reason to expect any better of him.

Then this week, news came in that broke the entire ecosystem of the NFL, crashing into the landscape like an extraterrestrial asteroid signaling an extinction event. A name that few people have expected to hear again was uttered, and once it was, the entire league would never be the same again. Kaepernick was back, and boy, nobody was ready for it.

It was shocking that the league seemed interested in him again, but once a workout was announced for Nov. 16, the entire sports media world, and the regular media world for that matter, seemed ecstatic. People were quick to pontificate on what teams were the best fit for him, on what teams refused to even look his way, and on what current quarterbacks should or should not be replaced by him. However, an interesting counter-narrative had begun its development as well, one that if even uttered a couple of months ago would have brought down upon itself universal consternation. According to noted NFL insider Ian Rapaport, “I’m also told that Jay-Z, who is working with the NFL on some social justice initiatives, was involved in this and pushed this idea to some extent.” Thus, the narrative began: “Jay-Z was a hero, he finally got Kaepernick back in the league, he is finally doing what we want him to do.” Jay-Z was playing chess and not checkers, and I was no longer correct to protest his move.

Then, one more wrinkle showed up within the story, and it has left me in an even further state of confusion than where I was before. Kaepernick complained that he had requested a delay in his training camp, but was refused by the NFL. Now, it seems curious why someone who has 11 teams supposedly chomping at the bit to see him practice would want to delay them, but who am I to judge? Who am I to say that this seems to be the NFL putting one more stake within the heart of Kaepernick, claiming to give him an objective workout while banning outside press so that whatever verdicts come out of the entire process are of the volition and control of the NFL, while giving them an out to finally rid themselves of this Kaepernick problem once and for all. Who am I to, once I heard that Jay-Z pressured the NFL to give Kaepernick the workout in the first place as he took a so-called ‘reputational bullet’ once he joined them, question whether or not his motives are pure or impure? Who am I to judge Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s so-called acolyte in the NFL, calling Kaepernick's workout a publicity stunt by the NFL? I am unsure what to think. That is the point. The NFL can pay penance for its sins, Jay-Z could be the league’s Jesus, and I, the sports fan, will go back to church on Sunday to worship.