Stephen A. Smith criticized Colin Kaepernick following the free agent quarterback’s workout session Saturday for NFL scouts.
The First Take co-host posted a video on Twitter after the workout, suggesting the whole thing was a publicity stunt organized by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z. But he said Kaepernick made things worse by trying to “control the narrative.”
The ESPN star was furious because Kaepernick’s camp abruptly switched venues from the Atlanta Falcons training center in Georgia to a high school field several miles away.
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Kaepernick’s reps said the venue change — less than an hour before the scheduled start time — was meant to ensure “transparency” after the NFL denied their request for media coverage.
Smith disagreed with the decision to move the workout. “He don’t want to play,” Smith said. “He wants to be a martyr.”
He doesn't want to play. pic.twitter.com/ZuSI1IVW9r
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 17, 2019
Twenty five of the NFL’s 32 teams sent scouts to watch Kaepernick play. But only a handful of those scouts went to the new location, CBS Sports reported.
Smith insisted Kaepernick misplayed his hand.
“Twenty five teams show up in Georgia at the Atlanta Falcons practice facility — state of the art facility, NFL personnel, equipment, video, everything, and what does Colin Kaepernick do,” Smith said. “Colin Kaepernick wants to change the venue.”
The sportscaster continued his rant by saying Kaepernick was a no-show.
“All of us believe that Colin Kaepernick would have showed out, and if he had showed out, I believe he would have had a job inside of two weeks,” Smith said. “But it didn’t happen, because he didn’t show. He wanted to show up at a high school in Georgia, not an NFL facility and then YouTube it live.”
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He then insisted Kaepernick isn’t serious about returning to the NFL.
“You don’t want to work. You just want to make noise and you want to control the narrative,” Smith said, “It’s over.”
The NFL workout was organized to showcase Kaepernick and give the former San Francisco 49ers star an opportunity to demonstrate he’s ready to return to the league. Kaepernick threw dozens of passes and proved he’s in game shape.
Once the session ended, the quarterback thanked the media for attending.
“Let me start by saying, I appreciate y’all coming out. That means a lot to me,” he said. “Our biggest thing with everything today is making sure we had transparency with what went on. We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here.”
[Watch Kaepernick’s comments below]
Kaepernick added that he’s ready to sign with an NFL team.
“So we’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running, stop running from the truth, stop running from the people,” he said. “I’ve been ready. I’m staying ready. And I’ll continue to be ready.”
Kaepernick started a movement in 2016, when he took a knee during the national anthem at games to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. Other players followed suit, sparking a national debate. He hasn’t played on an NFL team in nearly three years.