‘It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) After overtures to quell partisan grandstanding last year helped sagging NFL ratings to rebound somewhat from a sustained, multi-year decline, this year’s football season seems poised to get more political than ever.
The league announced Tuesday that it planned to partner with rapper Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to produce the Super Bowl halftime show—and that likely means a bombardment of “entertainment choices … heavily driven by ‘woke’ motivations,” according to Breitbart.
Even so, the NFL’s new “social justice” partnership was not enough to placate anthem-kneeling protestors like Carolina Panther’s safety Eric Reid, who denounced it as “disingenuous.”
The deal comes after Jay-Z last year refused to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s alleged mistreatment of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose controversial anthem-kneeling had resulted in viewer boycotts.
Jay-Z’s wife, Beyonce, also generated controversy in her 2016 halftime performance, which included an anti-police song. New York police subsequently demanded an apology, reported Breitbart.
Many critiqued the dullness of last season’s final game (featuring a low-scoring, methodical win by perennial contenders the New England Patriots) as well as the halftime act (a tame, restrained effort by pop-stars Maroon 5).
Although the Super Bowl ratings were low, the season ratings, on a whole, trended upward with the league making a concerted effort to neutralize the kneeling controversy.
That left fans scratching their heads this week when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dove headfirst into the political rift by announcing the Jay-Z partnership while describing the hip-hop promoter as “globally influential” and “impactful” in a statement Wednesday.
“The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country,” Goodell said. “We are thrilled to partner with Roc Nation and look forward to making a difference in our communities together.”
In addition to the Super Bowl halftime production, the deal authorizes Jay-Z to oversee “the creation and distribution of music content across multiple music and streaming services, as well as consult and collaborate on the production, promotion, and marketing of live music events.”
Those leery of the social-justice virtue-signaling were not the only ones unhappy about the move.
On the other side, fans who cheered Jay-Z for taking a principled stance earlier found it odd that he had a change of heart even as Kaepernick remained unsigned.
The rapper suggested in a statement that it was about much more than money—but rather, the advancement of a cause.
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said.
“Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas—instead, we unify them,” he continued. “This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”
But Reid was having none of it, saying in a public exchange, which took place largely over Twitter, that Jay-Z was throwing Kaepernick under the bus, according to Sports Illustrated.
These aren’t mutually exclusive. They can both happen at the same time! It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career. https://t.co/LFBZpbj2tw
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 15, 2019
Other outspoken left-wing activists, like fired ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, also jumped into the fray, saying any deal needed to address the Kaepernick issue.
He is not https://t.co/jIRVCatNLt
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 14, 2019
However, it is unclear what the league could do to pressure team owners to hire the quarterback even if they wanted to.
After media pressed President Donald Trump to weigh in on the Kaepernick question last week, he surprised many by saying Kaepernick should be hired if he proved he was “good enough” athletically to meet the needs of a team, but not as a political stunt.
Some even suggested that Reid could show his solidarity by refusing to play—which he soundly dismissed.
You & some others seem to misunderstand that we had no beef with the NFL until they started perpetuating the systemic oppression that we are fighting by blackballing Colin and then me. Nah I won’t quit playing but I will be a royal pain in the NFL’s a** for acting like they care https://t.co/bL6SMUkrQP
— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 14, 2019