Andre Ward

Interview: After His Hiatus, Andre Ward Is More Than Ready To Make His Debut In BET's Boxing Ring

Roc Nation Sports signee Andre Ward chops it up with VIBE ahead of his big BET fight.

Andre Ward is in the business of making history.

After a long 19 month hiatus, the WBA Super Middleweight champion will make his comeback to the ring in a momentous way. This Saturday (June 20), he will be duking it out with Paul Smith in BET's first ever televised boxing event in conjunction with Roc Nation Sports.

Before the gloves go on for the big fight, the man known as "God's Only Son" chops it up with VIBE to give his two cents on his boxing technique, Roc Nation Sports and his TIDAL-aired documentary, Gennady Golovkin and the new spin-off flick from the Rocky franchise, Creed. —Mark Braboy

 

VIBE: What makes you put so much emphasis on your feet more so than your hands?
Andre Ward: That's a great question. I got an old school coach who's more of a teacher than a coach. [Virgil Hunter] comes from the old school and old school teaches your feet first and teach you how to work on your feet, your coordination, your balance before your hands. Nowadays, a lot of trainers teach hands first and get really enamored and impressed by how a guy's hands is moving. 'Oh my god, you see how fast he is?' But if you know what you're looking at, you're like, he's doing that to impress folks. If you look at 90 percent of the net work and focus time that guys do. It looks great but it's all in place. I'm just fortunate that I have a great teacher who makes the net work uncomfortable. I mean, we can sit there and show off in front of a camera and have everyone oohing and ahhing but am I really getting better? Lee makes sure that my hands are in sync with my feet and it just translates into the ring.

I notice that you create a lot of spacing and distance with your feet and move off that.
Because my feet are my first line of defense and then it's my hands. So, I'm gonna always get it right, but if my feet are balanced and in the proper stance, then it's really hard for you to hit me with a clean shot and it's really easy for me to counter you. You throw, it may hit me but then I can hit you back. You may miss and I can hit you back or I may block your punch and I can hit you back.

How does it feel to be the first live boxing event on BET?
It's amazing! It's trailblazing type of stuff. One of the reasons why I signed up with Roc Nation was because of their ability to not just have a vision of doing things, but the actual ability and resources to carry that vision out. You know with the BET experience that we're getting ready to have, it's new, it's trailblazing, different and we're going to be in 92 million homes. It's probably safe to say that a good portion of these people maybe aren't die hard boxing fans and they might not watch this sport if it was just on premium network television, so I'm excited to be exposed in front of a new audience.

What does this mean for the sport of boxing?
I don't think it'll hurt at all, despite the negative press out here going, 'Ah this fight's on BET,' like it's a bad thing! But my thing is, it can't hurt. I think Roc Nation should get credit for having the guts to try this. BET should get the credit for being willing to step up and try something like this. It just can't hurt.

SEE ALSO: 50 Cent Doesn’t Think Jay Z Will Do Well In Boxing Promotion

What type of fight are you expecting from Paul Smith and what areas do you feel like you have the upper hand in?
Well, I know I'm coming to win, but I know that he's going to do his very best. He's one of those kind of guys, a pedal to the medal kind of fighter. He's a European champion. Durable. It's his Super Bowl. And because it's his Super Bowl, my focus and my training, I made it my Super Bowl. You got two hungry fighters and I won't have any mental letdowns. A lot of people are talking about the ring rust and the 19 months off and I don't think it's going to be a major factor in this fight, but we'll see.

I noticed in your Sway In The Morning interview during your hiatus that you've always kept yourself in shape. You don't drink and you don't do drugs.
Yeah that's key. It would be really difficult if I was a drinker or smoker and just somebody who didn't work on my craft and then was gone for 19 months and then said okay I gotta get ready for this fight. I probably wouldn't look that good and I probably wouldn't look my best for this fight. So once again, Virgil, I take my hat off to him. Great teacher in the midst of everything. He encouraged me throughout that whole hiatus, that 19 months to stay in the gym. Even days I didn't want to go, I'm like 'Man, I don't have a fight, I don't know when this lawsuit business is gonna be over,' he just said stay in the gym and keep working your craft and we did! And when the phone rang and we knew we had a fight coming up, we had to start from scratch.

How has Roc Nation sports made you into a better businessman?
Honestly, we just started our relationship but just watching up close and from afar that they're very consistent, they're very diligent and almost militant. I don't think anyone in that Roc Nation office gets eight hours of sleep, I highly doubt it. They're constantly working and they're on top of everything and they have a department for everything. I have an individual named Kaitlyn who's like a liaison. Anything that I need whether it's small or great, she's on call 24 hours a day. That kind of stuff is just incredible. When you got that kind of mindset, at the very top starting with Jay Z and his team, Juan and Desiree, and then it trickles down to the employees in the other parts of the company. So I think it's just about excellence and it shows in everything that they do.

It seems like everything they get involved with turns to gold.
Yeah, they've been successful in everything. And that's why even with things like Tidal, who knows where Tidal's going to go but people are quick to rush to judgment because he has so much success throughout his life and his career and in everything that he touches. People on the sidelines are waiting for him to fail at something.

What are your overall thoughts on Tidal? Have you tried it for yourself?
I haven't had an opportunity to dig into it, but that's just me being in training camp and focusing on this fight but I look forward to [looking into it]. You know I got that free subscription too, man, being associated with Roc Nation. I'm excited to get it in, get my playlist going and dig into it a little bit more but what I seen so far I love it. We have a five or six part documentary called “The Resurrection” [about me preparing] throughout my training camp. If you haven't seen it, go check it out. It's on Tidal as a five part series and they'll do one more the night before the fight which will be this Friday. It just all consists of music, video content, I think it's very exclusive.

Talk about your documentary on Tidal. What's it about?
I mean, it's talking about my past, it's talking about my present, it's talking about—like I'm opening up about a few things that I typically hadn’t talked about like my childhood. Stuff that my mom and dad had with substance abuse and how that affected me and my wife is on there. She doesn't really get in front of the camera a lot but she's on there to give her view of things because my view is one thing but her view may be something totally different. And it's just good, it's just exposes to people of who I am, as far as what the past 19 months have been like, this hiatus, and it just gets the people up to speed and it gets them ready and excited for this Saturday night.

Gennady Golovkin made some comments in response to things you said about him not wanting to fight you. In a nutshell, he told a story about how you and him were at the negotiation table with HBO about a potential fight, but allegedly, you were the one who refused? What are you thoughts on this and Golovkin?
Well I'm gonna keep it real brief because Saturday night, we're fighting Paul Smith and it's not about Triple G right now. I don't know anything about the comment but I'm sure he didn't come up with that by himself. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that will elaborate and talk about those kind of things in detail. Either his promoter or his trainer had pulled him to the side and told him to 'Say this.' It's sad, man. They're starting to lie now and what they've got to realize is it's not that serious man. Just be honest to people so they know that you want to fight or don't want to fight and move on. The lying and making stuff up, that small tidbit you just told me doesn't make any sense at all and if they were informed of that, it's inaccurate. People who know me know that I'm not going to open my mouth and say something if I don't mean it. I'm very short and sweet. I'm old school when it comes to it, I say what I mean and mean what I say, and then get off of it. It's simple as that. But, Saturday night it's not about Golovkin, it's not about his team. Them guys... I throw up the white flag when it comes to the internet battle, they can have that. I'm about action. And I'm looking forward getting back Saturday night against Paul Smith.

Got it. Another thing we want to know about is your new show, Creed. Talk about it for a second.
Yeah, it's a great opportunity with Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stalone and Nev King. I got two scenes in the movie but that's two scenes that I been had before the movie started. That's my first time actually acting on the big screen and it was phenomenal. Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, I mean Ryan Coogler is from the Bay Area. They worked on Fruitvale Station together and Ryan Coogler said, 'I want you in the scene.' Michael B Jordan, he's an accomplished actor. He gave me a lot of encouragement. He called me personally and it was just a phenomenal experience and it can't wait to see how the final product turns out.

What's your role in Creed?
I can't give up too much. I'm a fighter in the movie. I don't have a leading role or anything like that, but I have a significant enough role and I'm satisfied with my role. I'm thankful for the opportunity. You gotta watch it, man. What's good about this movie is that there's a lot of real fighters in the movie which I think authenticates this movie. And Michael B. Jordan did a phenomenal job of not just getting his body in shape to look like a fighter, but actually learning the different nuances and the different... just the lifestyle of a fighter. He came to the Bay Area, he's been all over the country [including] the U.K. There's some U.K. fighters in there. Learning what it takes to be a fighter, the mindset of a fighter and I think that's what's going to translate in this movie.

The Rocky franchise is one of my favorite franchises of all time. Do you feel like that has shaped your fighting career?
Yeah, I think it had a lot to do with it. I'm one of those type of people that gets motivation from stuff and the Rocky movies are no different. I mean you hear the theme song and I'm the type of kid where back in the day when I would see something like that, I would want to go run five miles or something like that. I drew a lot of inspiration from that movie and they're classics so, yeah, absolutely.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The 6 Degrees of Damian Lillard

It was the shot and meme that was heard around the world. Earlier this year, Portland Trailblazers' star point guard Damian Lillard hit a series-clinching jumper from beyond the arc as time expired, advancing to the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The shot, launched over former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George's outstretched hands was a big deal to seemingly everyone else on the planet, but for Lillard, it was simply business as usual. “We’re a really resilient team,” Lillard told a reporter in a post-game interview. “We knew it was ups and downs throughout the series, we just had to keep our heads right, stay focused, stay together. We stayed together and it came down to one play and we executed really well and we were able to get it done.”

This wasn't the first time he had shattered a championship contender's dreams and delivered defeat as a cold dish served. In May 2014, Lillard buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the ‘Blazers a 99-98 win over the Houston Rockets, clinching a 4-2 win in the first round of that season's NBA Playoffs, Portland's first in fourteen years. When asked about his ability to keep his composure during these pressure-packed moments, Lillard credits his big-picture outlook with keeping him poised. "It's usually not a whole lot going through my head," he says. "I think what allows me to be confident and just keep my cool in those situations is knowing that I put the time in to give myself a chance to be successful and to end these games and staying in shape physically and just having my mind in the right place. And also understanding that I can shoulder the success and the failure of it. Whichever one happens on that night, I know I can handle both. So I go into those situations not really concerned with the outcome."

Selected by the Trailblazers in 2012 with the sixth overall draft pick, Portland, Oregon would be a culture shock for the average kid bred in the mean streets of East Oakland, California. But for Lillard, his collegiate tenure at Weber State in Utah, where he competed in Portland on several occasions, afforded him some familiarity with the city. "I always liked Portland," he shares. "Because when I was in college, at Weber, we'd play Portland State every year. So when you get a chance to come to a real city like Portland where it's like an actual downtown and stores you can go to and kind of move around, you just have a different appreciation of it when you're playing all of these different small towns. I already kind of liked the city to begin with. Now I get to explore more. My best friend was already going to college here when I got drafted so I've always liked it even before I got here. When I got here and started to meet people and learn the city, move around and just being a resident here, I've only grown to like it more. It's become more of a home to me over the years."

Many words have been used to describe Lillard's play on the court, but one of the most appropriate is "ruthless," which is a major theme of the concept behind the DAME 6, his sixth signature shoe with adidas. Released November 29, the DAME 6 is another reflection of Lillard's ties to the city. "It's a great feeling especially for me because I live in Portland," he says. "And [with] adidas being in Portland, we're able to have a strong partnership. Because of the communication and us being able to get in front of each other, it's not hard to figure things; it's always one drive. I can get to them or they can get to me and I think it makes things easier. If it's a shoe I need to see or some type of hoodie or anything, socks, whatever, they can get it in front of me right away, it's not a drawn-out process."

According to Rashad Williams, adidas Basketball Senior Director of Footwear, the brand set its sights on making Lillard one of the pillars of the three stripes not long after taking the league by storm during his Rookie of the Year campaign. "I'm from the west coast so I knew where Weber State was," Williams recalls. "And then him being a lottery pick, I think he got on everyone's radar. And Dame played in adidas growing up, all the way through college so we signed him on to the family. Then I think it was by his second or third year, we were like, 'Wow.' Not only did the Trailblazers realize they had something special, adidas realized they had something special as well."

When it comes to the shoe’s creation, Williams credits Lillard with streamlining the designing process with his own ideas and input. "I think that's the big thing with Dame, he constantly challenges us on every shoe. If something's on his mind, he'll text you or he might pull up to the office, but that's how we grow and it's real." Aside from being relentless within the confines of the game, a term that embodies who Damian is as a person is "duality." He can go from being calm and collected in the midst of family and friends to transforming into a fiery floor general. And it’s artistically reflected in the DAME 6, which has many different dimensions, layers and moving parts that speak to Lillard's multifaceted lifestyle.

"I think the best way that it mirrors me is just the duality, having both sides of the shoe looking different," the All-NBA point guard explains. "I think as a player on the court, I definitely have a mean streak. That's one side of me you won't always see, but then my demeanor and my face is completely calm. Right after the game, I'm playing with my son, during the game I'm completely different so I think that's the way that it connects. Just the duality: who I am on the court and off the court, being a rapper, being a basketball player...I just think there are so many sides to who I am.”

As a long-time rap fan and aficionado, Lillard began to share his talents on Instagram with his #4BarFriday posts. Lillard, who raps under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A. (the acronym standing for "Different on Levels Lord Allowed") upped the ante from there. In 2016, he released his debut album, The Letter O, and launched his record label, Front Page Music. Featuring appearances from Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Jamie Foxx, Marsha Ambrosius and Front Page Music's flagship signees Brookfield Duece and Danny from Sobrante, The Letter O peaked at No. 62 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart, a respectable debut for any new artist, let alone one tasked with carrying an NBA franchise on his back. After returning with a sophomore album, Confirmed, the following year, Lillard's reputation as a lyricist began to precede him with a number of rap artists and critics viewing him as the most talented rhymer currently in the NBA, rather than an athlete moonlighting as a gimmick.

“I think one of the things people recognize is that I'm a real student of hip-hop. I know the history of hip-hop and I respect the history of hip-hop. The reason I rap is ‘cause of some of the best people who have rapped. I'm a big, big 2Pac fan, big Nas fan. Big Andre 3000 fan, Juvenile, all of these guys. Wayne, Common...like I'm a fan of that type of music. Just creating a feeling and people being able to connect with what you're saying and because I'm a fan of that, that's the kind of rap I like to create. I like to put words together to give people a feeling and allow them to be able to connect with what I'm saying. And I think a mix of all of those things, being authentic with my music and genuine with my music, I think people can hear it and they can respect it. They can connect with it and I think they respect it more when they're like, 'This dude is a basketball player.' There are people who do this as their primary career who don't know the history of the game that they're playing. And they don't respect the history of the game that they're playing in. I think a mix of those things has allowed people to respect me doing it.”

Dame's quest to be not only the best rapping athlete but the greatest rap artist of all-time has not come without its share of challengers. The biggest contender for the crown is Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley, a former No. 2 overall pick whose debut mixtape, Don’t Blink, dropped on the night of the 2018 NBA Draft. During an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, analyst Max Kellerman asked Bagley who would be the victor in a rap battle between the two, to which he responded by picking himself as the superior rhymer. As the competitor that he is, Lillard accepted Bagley's challenge, prompting the former Duke star to throw down the gauntlet with "No Debate," a direct shot at Dame D.O.L.L.A. Not one to be outgunned, D.O.L.L.A. fired back quickly with a pair of tracks, "Bye Bye" and "MARVINNNNNN???." Bagley retorted with "Checkmate," which would be the final salvo in the pair's brief yet entertaining back-and-forth.

While a number of NBA players have released material, two had never engaged in lyrical warfare, making Lillard and Bagley's battle a historic one. "That was the reason I did it," Lillard says. "At first, I was like, 'If somebody ever says something to me with some music, I'm just gonna say nothing at all' 'cause it ain't that important for me. I rap for me, I'm just pushing my own music. I ain't in competition with no athletes. He mentioned my name once before and then it was on TV and it was like a thing. I started to prepare myself for it to happen for that reason, 'cause it hadn't been done before. So to be a part of the first, it was enticing. We did it and then after that, I was like, 'I'm not gonna do it.' Unbeknownst to Lillard, his days of sparring were far from over, as one of his own comments would land him in hot water with none other than retired NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, who didn't take too kindly to a reference Lillard made during an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast.

Lillard's remark caught the attention of Shaq, who unleashed his vengeance against Dame on "The Originator," which saw the veteran comparing D.O.L.L.A.'s net worth and lack of championship hardware with his own. Undeterred, Lillard tossed out a pair of diss tracks, “Reign Reign Go Away" and its follow-up, “I Rest My Case.” While a large chunk of the public deemed Dame D.O.L.L.A. the victor in their dust-up, Lillard makes it clear this will likely be the last time he lyrically goes head-to-head with a fellow athlete. "Again, that was it," he reiterates. “The fact that it was Shaq, and that's like a big stage for my rap career. Having such a huge figure that I'm engaging with, I was like 'That's cool.' But that's probably it for my battle rap career."

With the release of his third studio album, Big D.O.L.L.A. — which has been billed as his most impressive project to date — Lillard plans to keep his buzz afloat this NBA season. "I mean, I've only recorded during the season maybe once or twice my whole career,” he shares. “Typically I just rap in the summer and I go away during the season, but this is the first time I did a lot of stuff in advance. I recorded a lot of extra music and I partnered with a lot of different people so that my music can continue to have legs and keep moving." He continues, “I got some stuff coming up, for sure. During the NBA season, I got some stuff coming, and something else that I can't mention right now, but y'all gonna see. But next summer, hopefully, I'll have another project ready.”

Lillard looks to make up for 2018's loss in the Conference Finals and shepherd the Trailblazers toward an NBA championship. However, with squads like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, and Utah Jazz all retooling, the western conference is as daunting as it's ever been. "I knew it was gonna be a tough season just because of every team getting better," he says. "And us coming into the season with a completely new roster, a lot of our guys that we had for the last three to four years are on new teams now. And we brought in a new group of guys, so it's like not only did everyone get better, but we're in a process where we're trying to figure each other out. We're trying to learn each other, we're still trying to put plays in and get our chemistry together and it's just gonna be a process so we're trying to find our way in an already tough western conference. I know it's gonna be tough, I know it's gonna be a battle, but we just gotta keep our head in it for the full eighty-two [games]."

And he intends to play in every single regular-season game, an anomaly of today's NBA superstars in the age of load management. Birthed by Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs and popularized by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, the load management theory has been pegged as a key component in winning NBA championships, with last year's Raptors squad being the latest test case. Just don't expect Damian Lillard to be sitting any games out voluntarily anytime soon. "I mean, I think LeBron said it best: ‘If I'm healthy, I'm playing,’" he says, shrugging off any notion of him logging DNPs. "I think as somebody that just loves the game and I've worked hard my life to be able to play in an NBA game, I'ma have a whole post-game career to do load management or whatever. And I also think everyone doesn't have that luxury,” he adds. “I think that's part of the reason why so many top players are teaming up and trying to go to the team that's the strongest. Because it kind of affords you that opportunity more often than not where you can say, 'Okay, I'm not feeling great. I'ma sit this one out and worry about me because we have a team that's good enough to go out there and win without me.' But me personally, I love to play the game so I'm gonna always choose to play, but I also wouldn't wanna put my teammates in that position where I put myself above the team. We all can go out there and play, I always put myself on the same level as my teammates."

Lillard's game-winning shot may have been heard around the world, immortalized in memes and gifs, cementing him as one of the most clutch performers in the game, but the story didn't end there. Upsetting the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Lillard, CJ McCollum and company were stymied by the Kevin Durant-less, Steph Curry-led Golden State Warriors, who swept the Trailblazers in four games, ending Portland's most successful season in nearly two decades. And with starting center Jusuf Nurkic not expected to return to the lineup anytime soon, not to mention losing Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, Seth Curry and other key players from last year's roster, Portland is looking to integrate various moving parts on the fly. Currently sitting at 9th in the Western Conference with a 9-13 record as of press time and depleted by injuries, the Trailblazers haven't gotten off to as hot of a start as expected, but with an eighty-two game season and one of the NBA's top floor generals at the wheel, counting Portland out of contention wouldn't be the safest bet.

And if Portland's recent acquisition of free agent Carmelo Anthony—who was recently named Western Conference Player of the Week (from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1)—out of basketball exile can give a jolt to the Trailblazers’ offense, a return to form is certainly not out of the question. "I'm always optimistic about every team that I'm on so I think we always have a chance,” says Lillard, whose streak of double-digit scoring games was broken the night before this sit-down in a home loss to the Raptors. "Last season, we got to the Western Conference Finals and I think that experience of playing that deep into the season was our first time and you felt it. We were up against a championship-caliber team, an experienced team and that's where we lost it; We had double-digit leads in every game, it's just that championship mentality and that championship experience kind of outdid us. But I think it's all about that process for us to just continue to move forward and try to get better so that we can get back to that position and hopefully the outcome is different."

Back to that loss at the hands of the Raptors. Afterward, as Moda Center employees, team personnel, and security hold court by the loading dock, family and friends of Blazers players await to console them after a tough defeat. Portland shooting guard CJ McCollum emerges from the press conference first, with Lillard trailing. McCollum greets Lillard’s two-year-old son, Damian Lillard, Jr., who is being held by a member of Lillard’s entourage while the man of the hour holds court with a few close pals. Clad in street clothes and looking unlike a world-class athlete that just finished fielding questions from a room of reporters about what went wrong and what they could've done differently, Lillard shadow-boxes with his son, a moment that brings to mind a remark he shared about how he keeps up with all of the moving parts of his life while living under the constant flicker of the lights.

"It's one thing to be a professional athlete and have to deal with the era that we play in, where people have so much more access to you on social media," Lillard candidly shares. "Instagram, Twitter, all these ways to kind of just poke at you, positive and negative. Like you saw, we come back there through the tunnel, the loading dock and it's a bunch of people and you're faced with what your job is all the time. People on TV are commenting on everything you do so it adds stress and it adds pressure. It just makes it harder to play in this era. But when you’ve got that family support and your own kid and that real love, that unconditional love around you, it just keeps everything in perspective and it makes it easier to deal with what your job is. It makes it easier to step out of that, even in the arena that I just lost the game in. I'm still able to step out of what my reality is."

As pleasantries turn into farewells, Lillard picks up Damian Jr. and the pair fade into the Portland night. With the Trailblazer’s set to embark on a six-game road-trip, Dame’s stay in the city will be short, but at that very moment, his face says it all: there’s no place like home.

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Carmelo Anthony Braces For "Next Chapter" With Portland Trail Blazers

Rocking a No. 00 jersey, Carmelo Anthony will have all eyes on him when he takes the court as a Portland Trail Blazer this evening (Nov. 19). The match-up will take place against the New Orleans Pelicans, not only continuing both teams' pursuit of a championship title, but also Anthony's return to form.

"Carmelo is an established star in this league that will provide a respected presence in our locker room and a skill set at a position of need on the floor," the Oregon team's president Neil Olshey said in a statement published by ESPN.

The news, which arrived earlier this month, has been a long time coming for the native New Yorker who consistently expressed his desire to play pro-basketball again. Previously, the 35-year-old played for the Houston Rockets before seeking a new home within the league. According to ESPN, it's been over a year since Anthony played in the NBA.

Anthony's family also wished him well on his journey per an Instagram post from Power co-star LaLa Anthony.

 

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He is his dad’s #1 fan & super excited for this new opportunity...but when it’s all said and done, he’s still a 12yr old that is going to miss his dad 😢🙏🏽🏀Portland you got a great one 🏀🙏🏽#portlandtrailblazers #stayme7o

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Nov 17, 2019 at 2:24pm PST

MELO WILL BE ACTIVE FOR PORTLAND'S GAME TONIGHT!!!pic.twitter.com/Q9VpDARAeZ

— SLAM (@SLAMonline) November 19, 2019

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Colin Kaepernick looks to make a pass during a private NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia. Due to disagreements between Kaepernick and the NFL the location of the workout was abruptly changed.
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Colin Kaepernick Explains Workout Location Change

On Saturday (Nov. 16), Colin Kaepernick showcased his talents for a few NFL teams as part of the league's workout invitational. According to ESPN, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback switched the venue of the workout from the Atlanta Falcons' training facility to Charles R. Drew High School.

Given this change, the NFL deemed Kaepernick was a no-show to the workout and expressed its "disappointment" in his decision. ESPN notes the venue change "interrupted schedules" for 25 teams ready to view Kaepernick's athletic abilities. The teams that were still present include the Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Kaepernick stated the location change was made to accommodate the media and spectators. In a statement from the league, the NFL said the workout "was designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants, an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL.” According to CNBC, the session lasted 40 minutes.

On the subject of the media being present, Kaepernick and his team believe those personnel would've been prohibited from attending his workout had it remained where the league originally selected. The 32-year-old's team also called into question a waiver they wanted the pro-athlete to sign.

"The NFL has demanded that as a precondition to the workout, Mr. Kaepernick sign an unusual liability waiver that addresses employment-related issues and rejected the standard liability waiver from physical injury proposed by Mr. Kaepernick's representatives," the response reads. The league countered that by stating the waiver is standard policy used by the National Invitational Camp concerning free agents.

Now, Kaepernick awaits the NFL's response, noting that the "ball's in their court."

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