The culture was shaken this past week when Roc Nation owner Jay-Z and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new partnership. The aftereffects caused flooded timeline that created a reaction series of WTFs. According to the Wall Street Journal “Roc Nation will also expand and play an integral role in the NFL’s entertainment operations—not just the halftime show, but also the production and distribution of other new football-related content together on streaming services. That could include original music, in addition to podcasts for players to voice their opinions on social and cultural issues that are important to them.” What added more fuel to the controversial fire was the absence of QB Colin Kaepernick, who since 2016 has been in NFL exile because of his refusal to stand during the National Anthem. Kaep stated that his action was because of the U.S. racially oppressed mistreatment of black people. Kaepernick’s kneel also birthed a national debate amongst fans and several NFL boycotts. Hence why many skeptics are accusing Jay-Z of betraying the NFL protest and QB Colin Kaepernick.
Admittedly at first, I wasn’t sure if Kaep’s actions were genuine. Initial skepticism when came when he voluntarily opted out his last year contract with the 49ers, which was an estimated 20million dollars. Second, was the overnight grown afro and black power raised fist that visibly came off as slightly forced to me. Third, I was no fan of Muhammad Ali comparisons because he dealt with bankruptcy, jail time, and 1960s firehose racism. However, my criticism lighten when Colin’s off the field actions began to reflect his views by organizing several community events that reflected his cause. Plus, Kaep not playing in the league was inexcusable and a blatant effect of being blackballed
The Jay Z and NFL deal is a bad look because unfortunately we as black people have seen this before. Countless times in the past that whenever black folks have brought actions behind their voiced concern against injustice, the opposition appoints a Front Office negro to calm the protest storm hopefully. Acts like these are a double edge sword because yes representation matters but not if the action itself is just a distraction from community issues.
The protest was doomed from the start because there was never a united goal for its outcome. The lack of a joint truth and understanding weakened it the position to make a change that a majority would agree. The absence of a singular appointed leadership with direction allowed a narrative to change too many times to keep up. The simple response was that many felt Kaep was unfairly blackballed from the NFL and refused to watch any games until reinstated. The conservative group who followed their President lead and felt that NFL players who took a knee were disrespectful to the U.S military was a reason to turn off games. I cannot claim to have boycotted the NFL more so than to have fallen out of love with it. I was forced to find other Sunday afternoon interest since the league appeared to:
1) Continue to ignore the health concerns of retired players
2) The little to no reaction to current players who were caught abusing women
3) Constant praise for the mighty overpaid mediocre white quarterback.
The absence of Colin Kapernick at the NFL/Roc Nation press conference made the deal lack any real depth. Kaep’s refusal to stand during the Nation Anthem is the entire reasoning for the NFL/Roc Nation partnership, so his absence puts a red stain on the deal itself. How can the public trust that the NFL is capable of real change when the one individual who sparked a movement will not receive any benefit from it?
Note: Click the links below for a more detailed response from both perspectives: