In his appearance on All the Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith discussed the root of his issue with Colin Kaepernick following his NFL workout debacle last month. 

Smith revealed that he and “a slew of other reporters who will remain nameless” were also trying to work the appropriate channels behind-the-scenes in an effort to get Kaepernick an NFL workout. While Smith acknowledges that the way the league handled Kaep’s workout was “a little shaky,” and could’ve been handled better, he also points out that other players looking for a shot are given an even smaller window to participate in a workout.

Smith goes on to explore what he feels is the hypocrisy in Kaepernick’s desire for another shot in the NFL, given what has transpired between himself and the league over these last few years. 

“Not only do you not trust them, you sued them,” Smith said of Kaepernick’s relationship with the NFL. “You filed a grievance against them. You settled! You settled. Who files a grievance against a company, settles, and then still says, ‘I want a job with you?’” 

Smith says that it was JAY-Z, along with Roc Nation, that spearheaded the initiative to give Kaepernick one more shot, despite considerable pushback from league owners who felt that the NFL was in a good place and didn’t need to bend over backwards for him. 

“I happen to know that JAY-Z and Roc Nation was leading the call behind-the-scenes, working with the NFL,” Smith explained. “Half the owners didn’t want to do it. They literally said, ‘Bump them.’” 

“We got the ratings back. Folks are walking through the turnstiles. We good. And not only that, we got four top league MVP candidates, and all of them are black quarterbacks,” Smith continued, possibly referencing Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Pat Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson. “We don’t need him. We ain’t have to do all this. And I was told, ‘JAY-Z was like, ‘Oh hell no, yes you do...I need you to make sure you give this brother an opportunity.’”

Smith seems to imply that Kaepernick’s workout was a mere formality because, as he was told, Kaep “would have to throw the football into the stands to not have a job in two weeks.” If that were true, we now will never know because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that “the league has moved on.”

Smith begins talking about the Kaepernick at around the 54-minute mark in the video up top.

Shortly after the chat went live, Jemele Hill took to Twitter to write, "Arguably ESPN’s most prominent talent admitting to help orchestrate a workout for Colin Kaepernick ... yeah let me go back to minding my business. Guards!" Smith caught wind of the tweet and responded. "1) I have a name," Smith wrote. "2) It’s your colleague & friend....whose known you for YEARS! 3) What I’ve said on many occasions on @FirstTake & ESPN Radio: that I was behind the scenes speaking to ppl in support of getting Kaepernick back into NFL. So what’s the problem now? Happy Holidays!"

Hill later tweeted that she will give Smith a call. "Cause my initial tweet came from a very specific place," she wrote.