T.I. defends Jay-Z's NFL deal despite Colin Kaepernick backlash: 'It shows a level of inclusion'

"Support for Jay does not mean a lack of support for Kap," the rapper said.

October 25, 2019, 3:19 PM

Rapper T.I. defended Jay-Z's partnership with the National Football League on Friday's episode of "The View" two months after he received backlash from supporters of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for not including the star player in the deal.

T.I., an outspoken artist and judge on the Netflix series "Rhythm and Flow," explained why he supports Jay-Z's decision to team up with the NFL in an effort to amplify social justice.

"For me, I think that it shows...a level of inclusion," T.I. said on "The View." "One of the things that I was critical of the NFL for is kind of trying to...benefit from the culture without being true to the culture, and without actually tapping into resources and relationships that could speak for us authentically."

When he announced the deal in August, Jay-Z said in a statement that "with the NFL's global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country."

Jay-Z received backlash from Kaepernick supporters because the deal did not include the quarterback, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, when he became the first NFL player to take a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism and police brutality. His protest sparked a movement, with several other athletes following his example.

PHOTO: T.I. and Jay-Z attend Roc Nation THE BRUNCH at One World Observatory on Jan. 27, 2018 in New York City.
T.I. and Jay-Z attend Roc Nation THE BRUNCH at One World Observatory on Jan. 27, 2018 in New York City.
Getty Images for Roc Nation, FILE

T.I. shared his thoughts on the deal in August as well, toeing the line between both sides in a video posted on Instagram with the caption, "What I hate most is that the oppressor takes advantage of opportunities like these to divide us and continue on with their operations as usual all too often," he wrote. "I believe in what [Colin Kaepernick] represents as much as I believe in what [Jay-Z] represents [and] I ain't gotta turn on either of them to do it."

On Friday, T.I. said that there are aspects of the NFL "that definitely need to be addressed, but the greatest journey begins with one step, and I feel like Jay-Z is a person that I trust, knowing his reputation and knowing him personally."

"It could be a step in the right direction, but we have to allow it time to materialize before we become critical," he added.

Co-host of "The View" Sunny Hostin pushed back on T.I.'s response, asking him if he thought the NFL might be using Jay-Z "as cover" for supporting social justice issues after they "effectively colluded keeping [Kaepernick] out of the league" for standing for those same issues.

"Did Jay offer them that cover or did Colin's settlement without having any kind of explanation to the people of what that settlement was and why it happened — the gag order that came with that settlement — was that cover enough?" she asked.

T.I. responded with a criticism of Kaepernick's protests.

"If we are still in it, what are our demands and requests? What are we in it for? What would we like to achieve? What are our marching orders? If that isn't being done, then I do believe we're just kind of standing fast with no true direction," he said.

"Support for Jay does not mean a lack of support for Kap or vice versa," T.I. said later on.

Kaepernick has not directly addressed the deal, but a tweet from Aug.18 with a photo of Reid and Miami Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson taking a knee appeared to push back against the deal.

""My Brothers @E_Reid35 @KSTiLLS @iThinkIsee12 continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats," Kaepernick wrote. "They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!!"

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