Jay Z dedicates 'The Story of O.J.' to Colin Kaepernick during NYC concert

We're two weeks into the 2017 NFL regular season and Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent. Depending on your perspective, his free-agent purgatory is either a function of poor play in recent years or a concerted effort to blackball him for kneeling during the national anthem last year to protest social injustice. Either way, Kaepernick is out of work.

But on Friday, Jay Z, performing his first headline concert in three years in his hometown of New York City, mentioned Kaepernick by name during the show.

"I want to dedicate this song to Colin Kaepernick tonight," Jay Z said before performing "The Story of O.J.," according to ESPN.com. The song is from Jay Z's new album, "4:44."

"I want to dedicate this song to anyone that was held back and you overcame," Jay Z added, while also dedicating the song to legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, who died last month.

It's been 13 months since Kaepernick first took a knee during the anthem, prompting both outrage and support that spanned the political spectrum.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said in August 2016. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Other players -- in the NFL and other sports -- followed Kaepernick's lead, taking a knee during the anthem, including Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who began the practice this preseason.

"[The violence in] Charlottesville was the tipping point for me," Bennett told CNN last month after the violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one woman dead and 19 injured. "To see so much hate. … There was no way I could go out there and hide behind the game."

Last week, a day after Bennett claimed that he was the victim of excessive force and racial profiling by the Las Vegas Police Department late last month, he explained why he continues to protest.

"I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply, the right thing to do," Bennett explained in a tweet. "This fact is unequivocally, without question why before every game I sit during the national anthem -- because equality doesn't live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a n------, you will be treated that way."

Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks Kaepernick's situation isn't about activism, but a result of teams deciding that the quarterback isn't a good fit for their respective systems.

"I want to see everyone get an opportunity, including Colin, but those decisions are made by football people," Goodell said during an appearance on FS1 last week. "When teams have a need and teams feel like they can get better by a particular individual, whether they know the system, or whether they have more talent, or whatever it may be, that's what they do. And I'm still convinced that he'll get that opportunity when the right opportunity comes along. That's what our league's all about."

Late last month, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he was convinced that Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster right now but isn't "because of his protests."

Kaepernick, who played for the 49ers from 2011-16, began last season on the bench behind Blaine Gabbert, but was reinserted into the starting lineup in mid-October. When it was over, he had started 11 games and completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed 69 times for 468 yards and two scores. But according to Football Outsiders' metrics, Kaepernick ranked 30th among all quarterbacks, just ahead of Case KeenumRyan FitzpatrickBrock Osweiler and Jared Goff.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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