Say it ain’t so HOV!
Yesterday HOV faced questions about why he chose to collaborate with the same league that he publicly criticized for its treatment of Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who hasn’t had a NFL job since taking a knee during the national anthem three years ago to protest police brutality and racial injustice. This is the same Jay-Z who showed support for Kaepernick by wearing his jersey on Saturday Night Live. On his mega-hit song “Apeshit,” Jay-Z rapped this lyric: “Once I said no to the Super Bowl. You need me, I don’t need you. Every night we in the endzone. Tell the NFL we in stadiums too.”
Now, he’s in business with the league.
Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab, wrote on Twitter that Kaepernick didn’t speak with Jay-Z before he brokered his deal with the NFL. Jay-Z said yesterday that he spoke to Kaepernick on Monday, but he wouldn’t divulge how their conversation went.
A source close to Kaepernick, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, told me, “It was not a good conversation.”
But it was all smiles yesterday between Jay-Z and Goodell.
“We don’t want people to come in and necessarily agree with us; we want people to come in and tell us what we can do better,” Goodell said at the press conference. “I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organizations, and with Jay and I personally.”
The financial arrangements have not been made public. But whatever the numbers, the NFL’s new partnership with Jay-Z is a huge win for the league. Some of the biggest celebrities in the world have voiced their support of Kaepernick, saying they would boycott the NFL until Kaepernick is back in the league.
Now that the NFL has Jay-Z’s blessing, it’s conceivable that some of those entertainers who distanced themselves from the NFL might change their mind. Jay-Z has given the NFL exactly what it wanted—guilt-free access to black audiences, culture, entertainers, and influencers.
NFL officials must have been bothered by how much Kaepernick was discussed during Super Bowl week earlier this year. Not only did Goodell have to answer another more questions about why Kaepernick still isn’t receiving any interest from NFL teams, but there had also been a number of reports that the league was having a hard time finding performers for its halftime show. A number of stars, including Rihanna and Cardi B, reportedly turned down the opportunityto appear at the event show out of allegiance to Kaepernick.
Ironically, one of the people who also advised Scott not to perform at the Super Bowl was Jay-Z. Yesterday, the Roc Nation founder said he told Scott he shouldn’t perform the Super Bowl because he would be playing “second fiddle” to Maroon 5. It had nothing to do with Kaepernick.
Clearly Jay-Z’s support of Kaepernick only went so far. Regardless, why would Jay-Z waste any of his enormous social and cultural capital on the NFL when he doesn’t need the league’s platform, money, resources, or validation?