Jay-Z faces backlash from new deal with NFL

Illustration by Meg Rogers

Rodney Robinson, Contributing Writer

It’s no question that the NFL changed on Aug. 26, 2016,  when Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game. This peaceful protest divided many locker rooms. 

With Jay-Z and Roc Nation partnered with the NFL, there’s another division between players, leaders and the NFL. Colin Kaepernick succeeded in raising awareness of social injustice by taking a knee. Everyone is divided at the wrong time. 

Jay-Z believes that “we’re past kneeling” during the national anthem. Some NFL players, such as Eric Reid and Kenny Stills, took offense to this statement.

Jay-Z has a good track record of raising awareness. In September 2016, Jay-Z created a short animated documentary, “The War on Drugs is an Epic Fail.” In this documentary, he briefly explains the racial injustices of the court system. Jay-Z also created a series on Netflix, that brought light to the Kalief Browder story, a teenager who was wrongfully accused of a crime. These are some of the things that Jay-Z has accomplished over the past few years, and he should get the benefit of the doubt from players and leaders alike. 

Eric Reid’s and Kenny Stills’ views on this issue are understandable, but let’s wait and see what Jay-Z accomplishes. 

“He’s not an NFL player, he’s never been on a knee,” Stills said in an ESPN interview.

Although Kaepernick hasn’t publicly spoken about Jay-Z, some of his representatives have. Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, spoke out shortly after the announcement of Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL released. Geragos described the deal as “cold-blooded.”

“I can confirm to you that the deal was already done before any conversation that [Kaepernick] had with Jay-Z, and he certainly didn’t have any conversations with the NFL,” Gertagos said in a phone interview with ABC News. 

Both sides need to come together. This is the wrong time to be divided. Kaepernick just settled with the NFL, and over the past two or so years, he has made a lot of progress in raising awareness. One major advancement is the “know your rights camp.” He continues to work each day and with Jay-Z partnering with the NFL; both sides can work together. Division is not the solution.

If there hasn’t been much accomplished in a few years down the road, then speak out. But if Jay-Z and other players can find common ground and work together, we can get a lot accomplished in combating social injustice. 


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