Jay-Z has been a vocal critic of the NFL and an outspoken supporter of Colin Kaepernick. That's why it was such a surprise when news broke on August 13 that Jay-Z's entertainment and sports company, Roc Nation, was entering into a partnership with the NFL.
Jay-Z's Roc Nation entered into a multiyear partnership with the NFL.
According to an NFL press release, Jay-Z's Roc Nation "is entering a multiyear partnership with the NFL to enhance the NFL's live game experiences and to amplify the league's social justice efforts."
As part of this agreement, Roc Nation will advise on the selection of artists for big-time NFL performances like the Super Bowl. Per the NFL, a major component of the partnership "will be to nurture and strengthen community through football and music, including through the NFL's Inspire Change initiative."
Jay-Z once bragged about turning down the Super Bowl halftime show.
In Jay-Z and Beyoncé's 2018 song "APES--T," the rapper famously stated, "I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don't need you."
Jay-Z also praised Colin Kaepernick for protesting during the national anthem. During a 2018 interview with CNN's Van Jones, the rapper said, "Would you rather be playing football, getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?"
And Jay-Z wore a Colin Kaepernick jersey in a show of support.
During a 2017 performance on Saturday Night Live, Jay-Z wore a "Colin K" #7 jersey to show his support for the athlete-turned-activist. The 2019 announcement of Roc Nation's deal with the NFL had many people wondering whether a plan was in place to get Colin back in the game.
However, according to Variety, Jay-Z said he hasn't spoken to Colin yet, but hopes to do so soon.
"He absolutely brought this conversation alive,” Jay-Z told the Wall Street Journal. "We like to think that the way we build the [NFL's social-awareness program] Inspire Change platform, that if anything close to that would happen in the future, then Kaepernick would have a platform where he can express himself and maybe it doesn’t have to take place on the field."
Jay-Z stands by his decision to go into partnership with the NFL.
In the same interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jay-Z said working with people whose politics differ from your own is a part of doing business. He said if he didn't, “then I couldn’t have any TV shows. I couldn’t put my platform on TV because I’m sure someone who owns the broadcast network has supported someone who I don’t believe should be in office."
"I can't control, no one can control the world that we live in currently and people’s choice to vote self interests," he added.