Jay-Z addresses critics of his NFL partnership: “As long as real people are being hurt… I can take negative press”

Jay-Z with NFL Commssioner, Roger Goodell
Jay-Z with Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League
Ahead of the Super Bowl, Jay-Z is discussing his relationship with the NFL, and the situation with Colin Kaepernick. Jay-Z faced considerable backlash after his business partnership with the NFL was announced. Many saw Jay’s NFL partnership, which was revealed in August 2019, as a betrayal of Kaepernick‘s police brutality protest. The former NFL quarterback has continued to be blackballed by the league, since he began protesting the police killing of black people by kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick ‘s protest began during a 49ers preseason game in 2016.

Soon after Jay’s NFL partnership announcement, the league put on what many consider a sham workout for Kaepernick to showcase his talent to NFL teams, in a bid to potentially land a spot on one of those teams. Things went sideways really fast, from out of the ordinary contract clauses to misunderstandings about who would be allowed to record the exercise.

In a conversation with Katherine Rosman for The New York Times, the music mogul and businessman, who himself – through his Roc Nation/Team Roc initiative – has taken on the cause of prison reform and fighting racial injustices, shared his thoughts on Kaepernick and the NFL. ”No one is saying [Kaepernick] hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”

Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneeling
San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid (left) and Colin Kaepernick (right) kneel in protest during the national anthem before an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North, Sept. 18, 2016. (Mike McCarn / AP) Mike McCarn
Jay wants to build a bridge between music and those fighting against social injustices, and bring them together to fight for the same causes. He plans to use the NFL’s platform to his advantage in order to attract attention to the issue of police brutality that Kaepernick knelled for, regardless of how it makes him look to those around him, ”As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple of rounds of negative press.”

The partnership has already begun to bear fruit. The most recent example is a PSA sponsored by the NFL featuring the family of Botham Jean, the young man shot to death when an off-duty Dallas police officer entered his apartment by mistake and killed him because she says she thought he was an intruder. Jay’s Team Roc is also suing the state of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Corrections for its treatment of prisoners.

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