Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, who had been outspoken about the partnership earlier in the week, responded to the ownership report with remarks in which he called the move “despicable.”
“Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin [Kaepernick],” Reid said to reporters while wearing a No. 7 jersey stitched with the phrase #IMWITHKAP. “[He] wore his jersey, told people not to perform at the Super Bowl because of the treatment of what the NFL did to Colin, and now he’s going to be a part owner. … It’s kind of despicable.”
Reid knelt during the national anthem before his team’s preseason game Friday as part of his continued protest of social injustice and to support Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has remained unsigned since the end of the 2016 season.
Jay-Z, a 22-time Grammy Award winner whose given name is Shawn Carter, has a history of philanthropy and work toward criminal justice reform, but his partnership with the NFL has angered many who support Kaepernick’s cause.
When asked whether he would kneel or stand during the anthem following the announcement of the partnership at the New York headquarters of Roc Nation on Wednesday, Jay-Z replied: “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time for action.”
Reid directly addressed the comment Friday, firing back a scathing response.
“For one, when has Jay-Z ever taken a knee to come out and tell us we’re past kneeling?” Reid said. “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 news conference to say that we’re past kneeling, again, asinine. Players coalition 2.0. He got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now. Because we’re not having it.”
Kaepernick has not publicly addressed the partnership between Roc Nation and the NFL, but his girlfriend, radio personality Nessa Diab, has continued to express her opinions about the subject on Twitter.
“Jay-Z knew better and did NOT do better,” Diab said in one post before the reports about Jay-Z’s potential ownership stake. “The NFL used him but that shouldn’t surprise anyone [because] that’s how the nfl moves. That’s what the NFL always does - BUY PR LOOKS. Thankfully the people see through this even if it means calling out their idol.”
On Wednesday, Diab denied that Jay-Z and NFL officials spoke with Kaepernick before reporting to the deal.
During Wednesday’s announcement, Jay-Z was photographed smiling and laughing next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whom Reid has accused of “burying” Kaepernick’s career.
In 2017 and 2018, Kaepernick and Reid filed grievances against the NFL, accusing owners of colluding to prevent teams from signing them as punishment for their activism. Although the cases were settled in February for an undisclosed amount, Kaepernick — who has expressed his desire to return to the league — remains unsigned.
The report of Jay-Z’s potential ownership stake further inflamed Kaepernick’s supporters, who believe it signifies an increasingly close relationship between the artist and those preventing Kaepernick from playing.
Ownership in an NFL team would make Jay-Z the first African American in that position in the league’s history, although it would come under contentious terms. In 2004, Jay-Z purchased a $1 million stake of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. The deal was also seen as controversial, with detractors believing it increased gentrification in his native Brooklyn.
Jay-Z has not commented on the ownership reports, but he defended Roc Nation’s partnership with the league by saying: “Everybody knows I agree with what you’re saying [in Kaepernick’s underlying message]. So what are we going to do? … [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job?”
The team with which Jay-Z might get a stake remains unknown, but TMZ reported that it will “happen in the near future.”
TMZ quoted an unidentified person as saying Jay-Z’s motivation behind owning a team is because he “is a huge fan, already has a sports business and wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.”