Mark Madden: Jay-Z sold out Colin Kaepernick all the way to the bank |
Mark Madden, Columnist

Mark Madden: Jay-Z sold out Colin Kaepernick all the way to the bank

Mark Madden
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z appear at a news conference at ROC Nation on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 in New York. The NFL and ROC Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports representation company, announced Tuesday they were teaming up for events and social activism, a deal Jay-Z said had been in the works over the last seven months.

It’s a rollicking time for the sociopolitical aspect of sports.

For the Pirates, not so much.

Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been under NFL contract for 899 days despite being ready and willing.

Whether Kaepernick is able is the oft-ignored part of the debate. The further he gets from playing, the more he looks like Johnny Unitas to those on his side of the agenda.

Kaepernick doubtless could be a backup, even 899 days later. (Landry Jones just signed with the XFL. So even the worst quarterbacks can live in hope.)

But NFL teams seem averse to alienating X amount of ticket buyers and creating a nonstop distraction by signing a backup who comes with his own personal excrement storm.

Once Kaepernick is on a roster, the protests wouldn’t stop: “Why isn’t he starting!” Especially if the starter is white and struggles.

Kaepernick easily could be on a team, and maybe should be. (Though 899 days is a long time to not play.)

But no one bothers to put themselves in the potential employer’s shoes. It’s easier to cast him as the oppressor.

Sure, Kaepernick just put together an impressive workout video. If it was that simple, the NFL would scout Zumba classes.

Meantime, Jay-Z has 99 problems. But Kaepernick is decidedly not one.

Jay-Z has entered into partnership with the NFL. He will contribute to the NFL’s social injustice initiatives and help put together the Super Bowl halftime show. (The choreography part of Jay-Z’s job seems a lot more tangible.)

Jay-Z went from protesting Kaepernick’s exclusion and advising performers to not appear in the most recent Super Bowl’s halftime show to being cover for Kaepernick’s exclusion and organizing the Super Bowl halftime show.

Jay-Z sold out. He is the face of the NFL’s heretofore empty pandering toward social initiative.

Jay-Z once sold crack. Exploiting your community is difficult the first time but gets easier. (How come Jay-Z can erase selling drugs from his resume but Kate Smith can’t expunge singing a couple regrettable songs from hers?) Jay-Z also objectified women and glorified gun violence in his raps.

Jay-Z entered into partnership with the NFL to make money. He’s a business, man.

This isn’t just an old, fat white guy talking.

Carolina safety Eric Reid knelt during the national anthem with Kaepernick when they were teammates at San Francisco.

Reid went for the jugular the minute Jay-Z made his deal with the NFL: “Your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career.”

Guilty as charged.

Jay-Z isn’t wrong when he talks about addressing the bigger picture instead of getting “stuck on Colin not having a job.”

But exactly how will Jay-Z address that bigger picture? How much will he profit by doing it?

No matter how Jay-Z contributes to social reform via working with the NFL, the immediate effect is undeniable: Jay-Z once spoke out on Kaepernick’s behalf but is now in bed with those he spoke out against.

That helps normalize Kaepernick’s exclusion, dilutes the fight and pilfers it away from Kaepernick.

Shrewd move by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: divide and conquer.

But it’s like Al Sharpton said: “You can’t fight Jim Crow and then sit in the back of the bus.”

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