Jay Z and the Intriguing Contract with the NFL

Mikamote • CC BY-SA 3.0

On August 14th, Jay-Z signed a contract with the NFL making him the “live music entertainment strategist” where he will act as a consultant for entertainment and social justice projects.

This is Intriguing because last year Jay-Z was encouraging artists not to participate in the Super Bowl and stated in a song that he doesn’t “need” the NFL and that they are the ones that actually need him. This all stemmed from Colin Kapernick, ex Super Bowl Quarterback, who was blackballed from  playing in the league after kneeling during the pledge of allegiance to raise awareness for the police brutality that is continuously occurring against blacks in this country.

This contract proves that Jay-Z  was right, they do need him. This is what makes this deal so brilliant on the NFLs behalf. They know for a fact that Jay-Z is a very influential figure in the African-American community, as an artist and as a business man. If he was encouraging other black entertainers not to perform at the Super Bowl, it would continue to hurt their viewership for the event. A viewership that has already been declining over the years. All the NFL had to do was offer him a number that he could not refuse, and he was all theirs. Him and all of the big name artist signed to his label, Roc Nation, whomay now have no choice but to perform in the Super Bowl. For example, Rihanna. Rihanna is a pop icon with a huge following and was amongst others who turned down performing during the Super Bowl half-time show. She is also signed to Roc Nation. With this new deal Jay-Z’s label confirmed, she may not have the freedom to protest the event in the future.

The NFL basically said: if we can’t beat them, make them join. We’ve seen this strategy play out successfully between the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant, so I guess the League decided to give it a try as well. So in the end, Jay-Z really went from protesting the NFL and boldly stating that he doesn’t need them, to joining their payroll in a matter of seven months.

Eric Reid, Kapernicks ex-teammate during his time with the San Francisco 49ers, is a player who continues to kneel in protest and lead social justice initiates to bring light to the racial imbalance in the country. He had a lot to say on the contract Jay-Z has agreed to. Retweeting quotes on twitter saying: “Jay-Z NEVER took a knee. The fact that he has the caudacity to saythat, ‘I think that we’ve moved past kneeling,’ is ridiculous. He sacrificed NOTHING. In truth, he is actually capitalizing off of Kaepernick’s loss.”

He even went as far to believing that this deal had something to do with President Trump. Reid tweeted: “Interesting timing on the partnership with Jay-Z on the heels of Stephen Ross’ fundraiser for Donald Trump and the backlash his other companies are getting because of it. #PayAttentionFolks.” Making his following believe that this is much bigger than just the NFL.

Jamele Hill, a journalist who was pushed out of ESPN after negative relations stemming from her making negative comments about President Trump, spoke up on the new contract as well. Stating in her article for The Atlantic that “It’s easy to see why Kaepernick would be upset now. “The partnership with Jay-Z is part of the NFL’s larger strategy to continue to absolve itself of what happened to the quarterback and throw enough money at social-justice causes so that the players will no longer feel the need to protest—or, at the very least, keep their opinions about racial injustice far away from the football field.” She also agreed with my earlier point by mentioning that “Now that the NFL has Jay-Z’s blessing, it’s conceivable that some of those entertainers who distanced themselves from the NFL might change their mind. Jay-Z has given the NFL exactly what it wanted: guilt-free access to black audiences, culture, entertainers, and influencers.”

So in the end it is continuously confirmed that the NFl did need Jay-Z. Or someone like him. But what sparked this change of perspective from Jay Z? Is it simply just the money? We clearly know how the NFL benefits from this whole arrangement. But do they have the right intentions, or is it a case of “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer?” I guess we will have to just follow this new deal and see.

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