We’re Beyond Kaep And Kneeling Now: Jay-Z Defends Roc Nation-NFL Deal

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Roc Nation-NFL
Jay-Z and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speak at a news conference at Roc Nation on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in New York. Jay-Z later said he still supports protesting, kneeling and NFL player Colin Kaepernick, but he’s also interested in working with the league to make changes. (Ben Hider/AP Images for NFL)

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t in the room on Wednesday during a press conference to officially announce a new partnership between Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation and the NFL.

 

Not physically, anyway, but Kaepernick was there in spirit and he’s been there in all the follow-up news coverage.

The Roc Nation-NFL deal is not connected to Kaepernick, Jay-Z said during the press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rolling Stone reported.

Roc Nation will become the NFL’s live music entertainment strategist, co-producing the Super Bowl halftime show and choosing who gets to perform. The NFL will use five songs, still to be announced, as promotions during TV broadcasts. The partnership will lead to artist and player podcasts, original documentaries, and playlists on all streaming services.

The goal is for the entertainment to tie into the NFL’s “Inspire Change” program — a social justice attempt at community activism.

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The Roc Nation-NFL partnership gives the NFL a foothold in the music business and the seal of approval for its social justice efforts from one of the country’s top African-American celebrities, New York Times reported.

So why wasn’t Kaepernick in the room?

The partnership announcement follows more than two years of conflict after football players led by Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and systemic racism. Kaepernick accused the NFL and its owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. In February 2019 Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL.

During the press conference, Jay-Z said that he had spoken to Kaepernick before announcing the NFL deal.

Jay-Z is not the former quarterback’s boss, therefore he cannot ask him to join anything. “I’m not knocking anything he’s doing, and I hope he doesn’t knock what I’m doing,” Jay said.

People have expressed disappointment and anger on social media that Jay-Z agreed to partner with the NFL, Sports Illustrated reported.

Jay-Z said that he couldn’t ignore the opportunity to uplift communities important to him through music and entertainment.

“This is the next phase,” Jay-Z said during the press conference. “There (are) two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?'”

“I think we’re past kneeling,” Jay-Z said. “I think it’s time for action.”

Kaepernick hasn’t come out and said he’s unhappy about Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL, but his girlfriend Nessa Diab has. Her issue seems to be that she doesn’t like the fact a business deal is being wrapped around social justice, Black Sports Online reported.

During an interview on NYC radio station Hot 97, Diab said that the Roc Nation-NFL deal is a public relations stunt intended to clean up the mess created by the Kaepernick controversy. She told listeners that she’s still a fan of Jay-Z, but she’s frustrated that he’s working with an organization that continues to deny Kaepernick opportunities, Complex reported.

On Wednesday, Kaepernick posted a video on Instagram commemorating “the three year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression.” “I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement!,” he wrote. “The movement has always lived with the people!”

In the press conference, Jay-Z said he understands that many people believe he should have shut the door on the NFL, “but people have to evolve,” he said. “People have to want to be better and people have to want to have conversations. This isn’t Twitter.”