Fans Feeling Cynical After Jay-Z Flip-Flops on the NFL

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Jay-Z, April 27, 2019, Virginia Beach City.  (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water)

Just about the only thing that united America during 2019's Super Bowl Halftime Show was the collective yawn it prompted.

After Rihanna and Pink, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, both turned down the chance to headline, the nation got stuck with a Maroon 5/Travis Scott/Big Boi snooze-fest—all of whom were criticized for taking part. Maroon 5 apparently struggled to find anyone willing to fill the guest spots, with reports that Nicki Minaj, Usher, Cardi B, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill and Andre 3000 all said no.

Probably fearing a similar outcome in 2020, the NFL has taken the bold step of collaborating with one of its fiercest critics: Jay-Z. Despite spitting "I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don't need you" on last year's "APESHIT," and also reportedly trying to talk Travis Scott out of appearing at the halftime show, the rapper's Roc Nation company has just signed on to be the NFL's "live music entertainment strategist." Moving forward, not only will Jay-Z co-produce the Super Bowl Halftime Show, he'll also advise the NFL on musicians to be featured in the football season's televised promos.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been careful to emphasize that this does not mean Jay-Z will be performing for them any time soon. "He was very quick to say that he does not want this to be about him performing," Goodell told the Washington Post, "that it was broader than that. It quickly went beyond that.” Goodell also noted that Jay-Z will also be involved in shaping programs at the NFL's social justice organization, Inspire Change.

Jay-Z told the Washington Post that while he had some Kaepernick-related hesitations before making the deal, “You can either go home, you can pack your bag and sit in the house, or you can choose to take it head-on. And that’s pretty much how we operate at Roc Nation. We seek to identify things that we want to be a part of and things that we believe that we can add value to, and we step in and we come with these ideas. And to their credit, the NFL agreed to these ideas."


News of Jay-Z's flip-flop regarding the NFL has been viewed with widespread cynicism on social media:

Though some supporters are viewing the new partnership as positive progress:

For his part, Jay-Z is sticking with the narrative that this business deal was intended to promote progress within the NFL. "We think at the end of the day," he told the Washington Post, "a lot of people will benefit from the NFL’s platform and the things that we brought to the table. We think it could help a lot of people.”

Whether it helps or hurts Jay-Z's credibility in the long run remains to be seen.