NFL signed a deal with Jay-Z that will encompass entertainment and social justice efforts.
According to the New York Times, the deal with Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports company, calls for the firm to be the N.F.L.’s “live music entertainment strategist,” which will entail Roc Nation and Jay-Z consulting on entertainment, including the Super Bowl halftime show, and contributing to the league’s activism campaign, Inspire Change.
The move marks a turn for Jay, who criticized the N.F.L. in the past and admitted in his song with Beyonce “Apesh—“ that he had turned down offers to perform during the Super Bowl, telling the league during the song, “You need me, I don’t need you/ Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too.”
At a Miami concert in 2017, Jay told the audience, “I want y’all to understand, when people are kneeling and putting their fists up in the air and doing what they’re doing, it’s not about the flag, it’s about justice. It’s about injustice. And that’s not a black or white thing, it’s a human issue.”
Sources also said that Jay tried to talk Travis Scott out of performing with Maroon 5 during this year’s halftime show; the group struggled to find black artists to perform with them during their halftime show, and ultimately were joined by Scott and Outkast rapper Big Boi.
The league and its team owners have effectively shut Kaepernick out since the 2016 season, when he began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police and other authorities.
The deal was scheduled to be announced on Wednesday morning, but was leaked by the Front Office Sports website.
The Kaepernick issue has divided the league, entertainers and much of American society.
In 2017, the league negotiated a deal with a group of players that included contributing as much as $89 million over six years to social justice causes that the players would choose. That campaign, which was renamed Inspire Change in January, donates money to groups fighting for criminal justice reform, opportunities in economically challenged areas and better relations between the police and local communities.