Colin Kaepernick’s NFL Workout Blurs The Commerce & Culture Line

CBx Vibe:Flip” Russ

By CultureBanx Team

  • Colin Kaepernick moved his NFL free-agent workout to a “transparent” location
  • The NFL remains a $15B enterprise

Activist and former NFL quarterback star Colin Kaepernick once again upended the league when his free-agent workout was moved to a “transparent” location. The unusual state of affairs came to a head when the NFL demanded Kaepernick sign an odd waiver that included potential employment claims, and in turn he moved his workout to a local high school. Even after three years of numerous public relations losses surrounding the Kaepernick led kneeling controversy, the NFL remains a $15 billion enterprise. Did the league want to go back and rip off a three year old scab and risk another public backlash, or just pass the buck?

Why This Matters: This has shaped up to be another failed public-relations coup for the League. Clearly a Saturday afternoon is questionable, because it’s when most road teams are traveling, along with some general managers and all college scouts are attending games. For a quarterback who put up 18 total touchdowns and four interceptions in his last appearance the road back to the NFL has been covered in spikes. Kaepernick hasn’t played since the 2016 season and in his absence a plethora of lesser quarterbacks have filled in for him.

“I’ve been ready for three years, I’ve been denied for three years, Kaepernick said.” He showed off those quarterback skills that were abruptly put on ice for about 40 minutes. The NFL said it agreed to a request made Friday night by Nike (NKE +1.94%), with Kaepernick’s approval, to shoot an ad mentioning the teams present. It isn’t clear how many NFL scouts made it to the workout in the end, though it’s been reported there were representatives from eight NFL teams on hand.

Let’s remember the reason he’s out of the NFL is because he refused to stand for the national anthem in order to bring attention to racial inequality and police mistreatment of African Americans. Kaepernick received less than $10 million to settle his grievances with the league earlier this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Where’s Jay-Z?  He used to be one of Kaep’s biggest supporters. The rap icon received a great deal of criticism in August when he agreed to spearhead the NFL’s entertainment and social justice efforts. He’s been a long time outspoken advocate for social justice, however, Jay-Z’s bigger commitment to capitalism has been on full display with this new partnership that the league has already committed $89 million dollars towards.

The rapper reportedly had many discussions with commissioner Roger Goodell about what he saw as a need to try to help Kaepernick get back into the league. Complex reported that Jay-Z took a reputational bullet for the commissioner during the press conference when the partnership was first announced.

Another view of Jay-Z’s commitment to capitalism is on full display since he’s now the NFL’s glorified Super Bowl halftime playlist curator. The hip hop mogul appears to exude culture as his entertainment company is home to stars like Rihanna and DJ Khaled just to name a few, and the league wants to leverage these connections for better ratings.

Situational Awareness: This year’s Super Bowl game was seen by 100.7 million viewers, the smallest Super Bowl audience in a decade, down 3% from 2018, according to Nielsen. The TV audience for what is traditionally the most-watched television event of the year in the U.S. has been dwindling since its 2015 peak of 114.4 million, which is just before Kaepernick took a knee. Overall, the league’s TV viewership in 2018 was up around 5% from the prior year.

CBx Vibe:Flip” Russ


CultureBanx Team

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