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 yelling “FOUL,” and tagging the word “sellout” to Jay-Z’s legacy. However; let’s examine the steps that explain more of why the deal is more of a “buy-in” vs a “selling out.”
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 he is 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 1) continually ignore the health concerns of retired players 2) have little to no reaction to current players who were caught abusing women 3) constant praise for the almighty overpaid mediocre white quarterback.
Admittedly at first, I wasn’t sure if Kaep’s actions were genuine. First 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, his not playing in the league was inexcusable and a blatant effect of being blackballed.
A sellout is an individual or organization that compromises/cash out their morality for a societal/cash advancement. Jay-Z’s latest business move doesn’t make him a hypocrite. His latest most quotable verse where he says “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,” represents just that. The press conference took place within Roc Nation’s office with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sitting in Jay-Z’s chair. Through public outcry, the NFL was forced to reach out to the one individual who has a solid track record of using his platform to fight against social injustices. The goal for any protest should be action, and this Roc Nation/NFL partnership is just that.