Colin Kaepernick caused a lot of controversy over the weekend when he switched up the NFL’s plans to have a workout session with him at the Atlanta Falcons stadium on Saturday. Kaepernick’s moves caused a heated debate between sports commentators Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman that had Black Twitter ironically siding with the white guy.
The disagreement stemmed from Kaepernick’s decision to host his own filmed workout session at an Atlanta-area high school instead of with the NFL. The pro football league said that 25 teams would be present during their sanctioned workout at the Falcons stadium and they said they would send video of the workout and an interview with Kaepernick to all 32 teams.
However, Kaepernick wasn’t about to agree to their terms, especially when they wanted him to sign a liability waiver that could potentially release them from employment-related liability if Kaepernick wanted to press claims against them in the future….say if they blackballed him again.
Kaepernick’s attorney Ben Meiselas and agent Jeff Nalley explained:
“From the outset, Mr. Kaepernick requested a legitimate process and from the outset the NFL league office has not provided one. Most recently, the NFL has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick’s representatives….Mr. Kaepernick simply asks for a transparent and open process which is why a new location has been selected for today.”
Stephen A. Smith ripped into Kaepernick for not playing by the NFL’s rules.
“He don’t want to play. He wants to be a martyr. But guess what? It ain’t working this time,” he said in an Instagram video. He also ridiculed Kaepernick for wanting to pick his own receivers for the workout and for wearing a shirt that had Kunta Kinte’s name on it from the slavery narrative “Roots”.
Smith reiterated similar sentiments on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday morning and his cohost Max Kellerman had a defense for Kaepernick that inspired Black Twitter. Kellerman recognized himself as a white man, but also as a media person who could use his platform to advocate for someone like Kaepernick who’s going up against a larger system like the NFL:
“What am I to do with my privilege as a white man and as a person on TV with an enormous platform? Which, by the way, I benefit from the platform that you (Stephen A.) built primarily. What am I to do with that power? Right? Am I to support the power structure that where injustice is ongoing or should I speak truth to power using that privilege and that platform?”
“When you say things like, ‘Colin Kaepernick, who are you as a black man — and now you’re given this opportunity — who are you to ask questions about who the receivers are gonna be? Why it’s last minute?’ OK, you may be right. People may be right. Like, ‘Colin, it’s not going to be perfect. You’re asking them for a job. It’s not gonna perfect.’ However, you know who I am? I’m a member of the media who will ask that question.”
“Why was the workout arranged in this way. Why was there an ultimatum with 48 hours to accept? Why was the waiver not the standard waiver? … Why only on that day? Why weren’t cameras allowed in? Why hasn’t he been working for three years? I will ask those questions, and I will also say while you can focus on the world we actually live in where you wear a Kunta Kinte shirt, the white billionaires aren’t going to like it. I am going to talk about the world we ought to live in. And bring pressure to bear that sooner than later we do live in world where ‘so the hell what someone shows up with a Kunta Kinte shirt.'”
Kellerman’s decision to speak up and defend Kaepernick received much praise from Black Twitter, whereas Smith received all the ridicule this time around. Scroll down for some of the most stinging and hilarious commentary.