Did Jay Z’s Deal With the NFL Hijack Colin Kaepernick Protesting Efforts?

 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z greet each other last week at Roc Nation in New York City. (Photo Credit Kevin Mazur Getty Images for Roc Nation)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z greet each other last week at Roc Nation in New York City. (Photo Credit Kevin Mazur Getty Images for Roc Nation)

By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

Rapper and Entertainment mogul Shawn “Jay Z” Carter inked a deal with the NFL last week to amplify their social justice efforts, though many of his fans, along with fans of the NFL, remain unclear as to what this deal means or looks like. Having worn an exclusive Kaepernick jersey on stage during his appearance on Saturday Night Live, Jay-Z has also been instrumental in rappers not performing at the Super Bowl in Atlanta earlier this year. We know from his lyrics, that Jay Z turned downed an opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl stating in “Apeshit” one of his latest hit songs, “I said no to the Super Bowl. You need me, I don’t need you! Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too!”. Understanding his previous position adds more confusion to this new partnership with the NFL.

It’s been three years since Colin Kaepernick chose to bring awareness to the social injustices in America by kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. The situation was then hijacked and the narrative of Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem brought major attention to the systemic oppression that has been unarguably pervasive in the country. Subsequently, many Americans argued that this wasn’t the proper forum to make such a protest since they could not debate the truth of the facts based around police brutality, racial oppression and social injustices which continue to be committed on minorities in this country.

Just as fans and supporters questioned Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for accepting their deal with the NFL, Jay Z fans and detractors alike are questioning the deal he, and Roc Nation, recently signed with the NFL. Many fans want to know why, and what, this deal means for the culture. Though Kaepernick spoke briefly about his purpose, it was widely evident what his stance was about. Many black Americans vowed to protest the NFL and stop watching because Kaepernick appeared to be blacklisted from the NFL.

I’m not sure Jay Z gained any fans when he said, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time to go into actionable items. So, what are we going to do? Reach millions and millions of people, or we got stuck on Colin not having a job?” Understanding that he’s been in support of Kaepernick until the NFL called to strike a deal with him. “With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” explained Jay Z. He continued on the say that, “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas; instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

I, along with other fans of Jay Z, am eager to hear specifically how this partnership between the Roc Nation and the NFL will “strengthen the fabric of communities across America”. As this deal between Jay Z and the NFL appears to be the NFL reaching out to an influencer in the black community to regain those fans, they may have lost over the past few years due to the Kaepernick controversial exclusion from the NFL. On the surface, this is a genius move by the NFL. They now have the most popular hip-hop artist on their side, and they can easily say they are doing their part to provide social equality by partnering with someone who speaks glowingly about being from the inner city. Yet because the specifics of this deal are unknown and this partnership has created another debate which seemingly forces the urban community to pick a side.

It is very admirable for Jay Z, an admittedly proud capitalist, and his company Roc Nation to not only negotiate this type of deal with the NFL but to carry the baton of change and inclusion with the NFL. Nevertheless, many feel that without the involvement of Colin Kaepernick, this partnership steps on the efforts of Kaepernick and his purpose of kneeling.

However, without knowing the specific details of this agreement the NFL came to with Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid earlier this year, can we truly criticize the partnership Roc Nation and the NFL came to last week? Jay Z was vague in response to his conversation with Kaepernick and it’s unclear as to whether Colin is or will be a part of this deal in some way in the future. It has also come out that Jay Z will become part-owner of an NFL team in the future. Some think that this ensures Colin should and would then get a tryout for a starting role on said team.

I am here to say that even though Kaepernick is likely better than many of the second-string quarterbacks currently in the NFL, he hasn’t played in 3 seasons and we are a long way from when he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth in 2013. Kaepernick lost his job to Blain Gabbert in 2015 before relieving Gabbert in 2016 and finishing the season with a record of 1-10 as a starter for the 49ers. Those numbers coupled with his desire to kneel in protest have most owners willing to draft a quarterback or bring in a less controversial quarterback to compete for their backup quarterback position.

One thing we do know about the NFL, if you can play, they will find a way to get you on the field! As we have seen murderers, domestic violence offenders and players being found guilty of crimes get multiple chances to regain their positions. Should Jay Z be granted a team next season, Kaepernick would be 4 years removed from playing in the NFL and this type of layoff would seemingly lessen his effectiveness on the field. Would it be a prudent move for Jay Z then to offer Kaepernick a spot on his team? I don’t think so.

So, either way, I do not see Kaepernick returning as a player to the NFL. Maybe Jay Z should bring Colin in as a consultant to the team or partner with Kaepernick to continue to keep social injustices awareness on the forefront of NFL fans hearts and minds. I understand that Jay Z has his voice, and many entertainers who would gladly parrot his position, however that’s the rub within the urban community. Does this agreement that Roc Nation came to with the NFL spit in the face of Colin Kaepernick and his protest? Or is this the next step of the protest? I mentioned in a previous article that any comparisons of Kaepernick to Ali or any other civic leaders are preposterous! Though Kaepernick has certainly raised awareness on the disparity in race relations in America for those who cared to hear his message, he has also been working on his “Know Your Rights” campaign. I would still like to hear from Kaepernick and Reid on the details of their deal with the NFL, just as I would love to hear, or see, from Jay Z and Roc Nation on what the success of their deal with the NFL looks like for them.

Additionally, I’d be just as interested in hearing your position on this situation with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL as well as Roc Nation, Jay Z, and the NFL. Please share your thoughts and feedback on these sensitive topics with us by commenting in the comment section of this article on www.whatsgoodinsports.com or by following me on Twitter at “Voice of the Fans” for immediate engagement. Additionally, subscribe to our weekly “Voice of the Fans” Podcast which is available for you on Apple and Google Podcasts including Spotify, TunedIn, and iHeart Radio. We certainly appreciate you for making our voice your choice!