Free-agent receiver Antonio Brown broke ranks with the mainstream narrative and publicly slammed quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick in a recent interview. Speaking on the video podcast Cigar Talk, the embattled Brown openly laughed at the idea of Kaepernick returning to the NFL. In Brown’s opinion, Kaepernick already “took the deal” by accepting activism money from Nike and suing the league; plus, Brown said colorfully, Kaepernick never had the skills to truly matter in the NFL.
“He don’t wanna play, man. He was trash,” Brown said, laughing. “We don’t feel sorry for you. You took the deal … he took the handout.”
While Kaepernick did enjoy some success in the NFL (a Super Bowl appearance in the 2012 season), his mixed performance on the field paled in comparison to the amount of distraction he brought to the locker room after he knelt during the National Anthem. Kaepernick leaned into his celebrity status as a solitary, activist revolutionary despite playing the ultimate team game.
Antonio Brown said people don’t respect the way Colin Kaepernick handled his activism fame
And now, a decade after his arrival in the NFL, Kaepernick supposedly wants another shot in the NFL — a shot that Brown doesn’t understand.
“You [play] for Nike, f**k outta here,” Brown lamented. “Kaepernick did all that, he took the money, he did the commercials. We don’t see him outside, we don’t see him in the hood. We don’t respect that. He ain’t never even been in the trenches.”
Brown, a bonafide superstar receiver who also lost favor with the league because of his antics, likely won’t convert any Kaepernick fans who believe the quarterback was blackballed from the league. But Brown’s comments will elicit a round of head nods from a quiet, common sense constituency that thinks Kaepernick secretly leaned into the martyrdom and never wanted to re-enter the league.
Brown clarified his comments a bit towards the end of the rant, saying that he likes Kaepernick; but doesn’t respect the way he went about leveraging his activism for a payout.
“We like Kaepernick and all, but we ain’t really on that,” he said. “Ya know, so, as black people we need to get that clear. Because when we have moments, ain’t nobody giving us nothing. And he took the handout.”
In late April, Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis publicly supported Kaepernick’s comeback effort — the first such vote of confidence from any front office in years.
“I believe in Colin Kaepernick,” Davis said. “He deserves every chance in the world to become a quarterback in the National Football League. I still stand by it. If our coaches and general manager want to bring him in or want him to be the quarterback on this team, I would welcome him with open arms.”