Sports personality Stephen A. Smith, one of the biggest stars at ESPN, and Eric Reid, the Carolina Panthers safety, had a war of words on the Internet over the weekend after the San Francisco 49ers ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick held a workout for NFL teams Saturday.
Smith posted a three-minute video criticizing Kaepernick for calling an audible less than an hour before he was scheduled to work out for 25 NFL teams.
The ESPN star said Kaepernick had no interest in playing in the NFL, which got a digital clapback from Reid, who played with Kaepernick when they were with the San Francisco 49ers and knelt with him during the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Reid, who called the showcase a “PR stunt,” tweeted back, tagging Smith’s original post: “Tap dancing for the NFL like ⬇️. Da-- straight Colin wants to control the narrative! He supposed to trust the organization that blackballed him and has done absolutely nothing in good faith??? Born on Tuesday, just not last Tuesday.”
Smith then took the fight to Instagram, saying: “The more you talk, the more ridiculous you sound, @e_reid35. Actually, it’s worse than I thought since you’re the one tweeting at me hours before a da-- game. And speaking of the game, weren’t you in Atlanta in attendance for Kaepernick’s workout yesterday — before having to leave EARLY to play for a team in a league you’re feeling so oppressed by? Wasn’t that you? Just asking!”
He added: “We just have a difference of opinion. I still respect the hell out of your immature, belligerent self. But I’m going to call it like I see it. Kaepernick made a mistake the way he handled all this…….IF he really wants a job in the NFL. Period. And your contribution to all of this doesn’t help. It hurts. It ain’t about you being wrong. It’s about you needing to grow the hell up. Your decision. Your life! Do you!”
Kaepernick had moved the session to a high school football field in Riverdale, Ga., from the Atlanta Falcons training facility in Flowery Branch, 60 miles away.
Kaepernick threw passes for about 40 minutes to free-agent receivers Bruce Ellington, Brice Butler, Jordan Veasy and Ari Werts before signing autographs for hundreds of fans gathered in the end zone.
"I've been ready for three years. I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters at the conclusion of the day. "... We are waiting for the 32 owners, 32 teams and [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."
Kaepernick, 32, has not played since 2016 when he suited up for the 49ers. He helped start a wave of protests regarding social and racial injustice that season by kneeling during the National Anthem at games.
The NFL this past February settled a collusion grievance Kaepernick and Reid filed against the league.