Rap mogul Jay-Z will not only co-produce the NFL’s halftime show, he will also play a large and influential role in one of the NFL’s leading social justice initiatives.
The NFL said in a press release:
“Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s company) announced it has entered into a long-term partnership with the National Football League as the league’s official Live Music Entertainment Strategists. The partnership will begin as the NFL’s 100th season kicks off (this year) and will serve as a commitment from Roc Nation and the NFL to nurture and strengthen community through music and the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative.”
What is the “Inspire Change” initiative?
According to the NFL release, it supports, “priority areas identified by NFL Players, including education and economic advancement, improving police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.”
Jay-Z is excited to work with the NFL to “inspire change.”
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said in the statement.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is looking forward to working with Jay-Z and Roc Nation.
“Roc Nation is one of the most globally influential and impactful organizations in entertainment,” Goodell said. “The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country. We are thrilled to partner with Roc Nation and look forward to making a difference in our communities together.”
Signing a deal with Jay-Z could help the NFL curry favor with their rank-and file, many of whom are African-American. Jay-Z is an iconic figure with many players.
“Despite its significant recent efforts to back players in championing social justice, the NFL still lacks credibility with many African Americans, even some who identify as being among the league’s fans, because of the Colin Kaepernick situation,” wrote ESPN’s Jason Reid, the NFL writer for their “Undefeated” vertical.
What is the “Colin Kaepernick situation?”
In the summer of 2016, Kaepernick, a quarterback, who played for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, started kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner, and did so the entire season, to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016, and sued the league, claiming teams colluded to keep him out of the NFL. The NFL settled with him for an undisclosed amount. While Kaepernick didn’t play the last two seasons, other players have continued his anthem protest movement, including Miami wide receiver Kenny Stills and Carolina safety Eric Reid.
Jason Reid added, “In a league in which the on-field workforce is almost 70% black, having [Jay-Z] involved at a high level could please many players.”
Aside from working on social change initiatives, Jay-Z’s company will be a music consultant to the NFL for their big events.
“Roc Nation will also consult and collaborate on various aspects of production, promotion, marketing, and communications for live music events and related activations, which include new endeavors such as Songs of the Season and a Pro Bowl Community Concert,” the NFL said in the press release.
Jay-Z and Roc Nation will also be involved in planning some of the entertainment provided for the Super Bowl.