ESPN super-star Stephen A. Smith says that recent talk of a possible comeback by Colin Kaepernick is “utter nonsense.”
Smith got the last word on ESPN’s “First Take” and said he was “sick” of the conversation about Kaepernick potentially getting back into the league after being out since 2016. The longtime commentator made clear he supported Kaepernick from the time he and the 49ers parted ways to the time he was set to work out for NFL teams during the 2019 season before a waiver issue ended the league-sponsored session.
“I want to make sure I’m very, very clear about this because this has gotten on my last nerve and I’m going to put this to bed once and for all. Colin Kaepernick was black-balled. Colin Kaepernick was mistreated. Colin Kaepernick should be in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick should have never been out of the NFL. He violated no laws. He violated no NFL bylaws,” Smith said. “He got screwed over. Period.
“How many times do we need to say that before Colin Kaepernick is willing to accept the fact you gotta handle things differently and what do I mean by that? I’m not talking about the kneeling. I’m not talking about the protesting because that’s on behalf of us and there’s a level of graciousness and gratitude we all owe him. Black people, as far as I’m concerned, America, owes this to Colin Kaepernick. But that was from 2016 to 2019.”
What Smith appeared to take issue with was Kaepernick allegedly not taking any of the help he was given and failing to take advantage of it.
“In 2019, after you filed a lawsuit against the National Football League, after you reached a multimillion-dollar settlement, after you made it clear you don’t have any trust for them and they made it clear they have no trust for you, because of pressure from Jay-Z, who is obviously advising the NFL on social justice issues and things of that nature, along with a multitude of people inside and outside of the media and you’re listening to one of them because I spoke to many people on behalf of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL said we’re gonna conduct a workout. And Colin Kaepernick refused to workout because of some waiver issue, some liability issue,” Smith said.
“At the end of the day, what are you saying, Colin Kaepernick, you didn’t trust them? Well, duh! We know you didn’t trust them. They didn’t trust you because they felt like if an individual team, none of whom called you by the way, if an individual team gave you a workout that you would sit up there, if you don’t make the team, they were saying you might sit up there and accuse us of being racist because they didn’t pick you on the team so as a result we can’t trust you either. Both sides don’t trust one another. Who the hell don’t know that?”
Smith said, as a result of the animosity and distrust that Kaepernick brought down on himself and could have avoided had he handled things differently, those in charge don’t want to have Kaepernick on any team.
“The point is coaches, players and executives all answer to owners of those respective football teams and they don’t want to touch you. And you knew that and the one in, you refused to exploit. I understand your point about not trusting them, hell we don’t trust them. But we were willing to fight for you, you didn’t want to listen to anybody. And now the NFL is saying, ratings are up 10% from the year before. Super Bowl ratings were up 6%. We got some of the best numbers since 2015, that’s without Colin Kaepernick. Why would we invite this trouble? Smith continued.
Kaepernick said in a recent podcast interview he “absolutely” wants to play in the NFL again and is even willing to return to the league as a backup quarterback if that helps his comeback chances.
Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016, the same year he started kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. He has since been working out with NFL players to showcase his talent. He had a meeting with the Seattle Seahawks in previous years, but a contract never came to fruition.