Back in 2019 Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Entertainment Company partnered with the NFL to help the league step up its Super Bowl halftime show and amplify its social justice initiatives by developing content and spaces where players can speak about the issues that concern them.
The partnership rightfully received several criticisms from naysayers who questioned Jay’s sudden desire to work with the NFL despite the league’s wrongful treatment of Colin Kapernick. This is the same Jay-Z who told Travis Scott not to entertain Super Bowl performance offers, and discouraged Jermaine Dupri from partnering with the NFL for a series of shows in Atlanta before the 2019 Super Bowl.
The rap billionaire also rapped about rebuffing advances from the league with the line, “I said no to the Super Bowl: You need me, I don’t need you. Every night we in the end zone. Tell the NFL we in stadiums too” on the song “Ape Shit” with wife Beyoncé.
Jay-Z becoming the new face of the NFL’s social change initiative was seen as an act of betrayal after several high-profile celebrities including Cardi B and Rihanna had agreed to boycott the league in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was blacklisted over five years ago for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.
“I think we’re past kneeling. I think it’s time for action,” Jay-Z stated while announcing the deal.
Jay claimed he spoke with Kaepernick before closing the NFL deal, but refused to share the details of their talk. Kaepernick’s girlfriend, radio personality Nessa Diab, called that “a lie,” saying that Kaepernick was “never included in any discussion” with Jay-Z or the NFL about their eventual partnership. An anonymous source close to Kaepernick told sports Journalist, Jemele Hill that he and Jay-Z did talk, but “it was not a good conversation.”
It was speculated that Jay was brought in by the league solely to soften the criticisms and appease the black community. Unfortunately, it seemed to have worked and we were conditioned to trust the process.
Some three years down the line, the rapper’s motives are being questioned by users of the ever controversial Twitter app.
On Thursday (February 3), sports journalist Mike Freeman wrote on his Twitter page, “I don’t feel like Jay-Z’s relationship with the NFL has produced anything tangible in terms of advancing social and racial justice issues. Which was supposed to be the core of the partnership. Am I wrong?”
Other Twitter users agreed with him with some poiting out, “The core of the partnership was to get the negros to shut up about the NFL’s racism + put some more money in Jay-Z’s (already overstuffed) pockets.”
Another Twitter user wrote “Once he said “we’re over kneeling”, I knew what this was. Kap heat was high and they needed a distraction.”
While others are still trusting the process.
“keep watching. Jay doesn’t make small moves. The NFL has been notoriously stingy about who gets to own teams, who gets to be involved in the brand on an ownership level. He’s put his foot in the door so that other folks can step up to the plate as well now.”
“Didn’t he get them to give 90 million to black social issues? Is that not tangible? Jay-Z doesn’t run the NFL. Jay-Z is trying to get into ownership which will be tangible change.
I still don’t understand why people keep brining up Jay Z like he the commissioner or some shit.”
It remains unclear how much the N.F.L. is paying Roc Nation as part of the deal, however in an interview with The New York Times, Jay notes, “We didn’t say, ‘Let’s go make some money off the N.F.L.'”
Read more comments below.