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MIAMI DOLPHINS receiver Kenny Stills objected on Monday to recent comments from rapper Jay-Z about social activism by current and former NFL players, including blacklisted quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Jay-Z and the league last week announced a partnership he characterised as a progressive step to carry on the campaign that Kaepernick began by kneeling during the United States national anthem to bring attention to police brutality and racial division.
Stills said he isn’t so sure the Jay-Z partnership represents progress.
“I felt like he really discredited Colin and myself and the work that’s being done,” Stills said. “I’m going to try and give this man the benefit of the doubt for now, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It’s not something that I agree with. It’s not something that I respect.”
While Kaepernick has been denied work in the NFL, Stills continues to kneel during the anthem to protest social injustice. Last week Jay-Z said kneeling has served its purpose.
“I think everyone knows what the issue is — we’re done with that,” Jay-Z said. “We all know the issue now. OK, next.”
Stills said Jay-Z could have reached out to him or to Kaepernick before announcing the partnership.
“He’s talking about, ‘We’re moving past kneeling,’ like he ever protested,” Stills said. “He’s not an NFL player. He’s never been on a knee. … To say that we’re moving past something, it didn’t seem very informed.”
Stills isn’t the first player to speak out against Jay-Z collaborating with the NFL.
Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick who knelt alongside him when the duo played together, called the news that Jay-Z will have “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team “kind of despicable.”
“Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin, wore his jersey, told people not to perform at the Super Bowl because of [what] the NFL did to Colin,” Reid said last Friday. “Now he’s going to be a part owner, that’s kind of despicable.”
“For one, when has Jay-Z ever taken a knee to come out and tell us that we’re past kneeling?
“Yes, he’s done a lot of great work, a lot of great social justice work.
“But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asinine. Players Coalition 2.0, he got paid to take the bullets he’s taking now because we’re not having it.”
Reid added that the NFL is hiding behind Jay-Z’s “black face” with the new deal.
“The [injustice] that’s happened to Colin, they get to say: ‘Look, we care about social justice, we care about the black community because we’re with Jay-Z,’” Reid added. “Jay-Z is doing the work for them. We all know that it’s unjust that Colin isn’t in an NFL locker room, the way he lost his job. But they get to pretend they care about social justice.”
Reid said the window for Kaepernick, now aged 31, to get an NFL job is shrinking, and the move by the NFL to partner with Jay-Z fits the pattern he has observed over the past year.
“Jay-Z made a money move,” Reid said. “He’s capitalised on this situation. Nobody to my knowledge talked about social justice before Colin started protesting. That was not a topic of the NFL off the field. For Jay-Z to come in and partner to address social justice, do it behind Colin’s back, get paid to do it … I don’t have words.”
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