Jay-Z’s NFL deal involves the Super Bowl halftime shows AND a franchise

Made In America Music Festival 2017

My confession: I was actually paying attention to the Jay-Z/Roc Nation/NFL story last week, but I kept getting sidetracked with other gossip – dumb, easier to digest gossip – and I was just like “where do I even start?” at some point. So, here’s what happened:

On August 13, the NFL announced that it was entering a partnership with Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded and led by rapper and mogul Jay-Z. The deal, which has reportedly been in the works for several months, means that Roc Nation will now help “advise on selecting artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl.”

While the deal effectively gives Jay-Z a major role in developing one of the most-watched concerts in the country, it also includes a social justice partnership between the rapper and the NFL. Roc Nation, the NFL adds, will play an important role in the NFL’s recently launched “Inspire Change” initiative, a collaboration between the NFL and the Players Coalition, a group of NFL players seeking to advance social and racial justice. The initiative focuses on three causes in particular: “education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform.”

[From Vox]

Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin Kaepernick, the same Kaepernick who was thrown out of the NFL and blackballed in 2017 just because he took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and the extrajudicial killings of people of color by the police. The Kaepernick situation is still happening – he did settle with the NFL earlier this year, but he still hasn’t been hired by a team. Jay was one of the prominent celebrities claiming to have Kaepernick’s back. And now Jay-Z is getting into bed financially with the NFL and bringing his audience to the NFL. On one side, I feel like Jay-Z could make a solid argument that he wants to work inside the system to change the system instead of throwing stones from the outside. On the other hand, this is all just business for Jay-Z and many people believe that he’s selling out his community and his principles. Also: Jay-Z is not only going to do the halftime shows, he’s also going to own a stake in an NFL franchise:

Jay-Z had multiple reasons for becoming part of the NFL family, and TMZ Sports has learned one of them is that he is going to become part owner of an NFL team … and it’s going to happen soon. Sources connected to Jay and with direct knowledge tell us … Jay is going to have a “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team. As for which team … we’re not being told, but we are told “it is going to happen in the near future.”

We’re told Jay wants to become a part owner “because he’s a huge fan, already has a sports business and wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.” There’s a question … can Jay manage players if he owns a team? Our sources make it clear … “Jay is not an NFL agent and does not take part in the operations of the NFL players in Roc Nation.” Jay has experience with team ownership … he was a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets. He sold his stake in 2013.

[From TMZ]

Vox has a helpful explainer – go here to read – which goes in-depth about why the Roc Nation partnership has struck so many people as a disingenuous sell-out move on Jay’s part. Jemele Hill also wrote an excellent takedown of the Roc Nation deal for The Atlantic, and that was BEFORE we learned that Jay is also going to be a part owner of a franchise, laughing it up with all of those other rich white Republican dudes who believe they can treat black football players like slaves.

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid – who also settled with the NFL over the anthem protests – was told about Jay-Z’s franchise deal and he described it as “despicable.”

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) meets cast and crew, including US singer-songwriter Beyoncé (C) and her husband, US rapper Jay-Z (R) as she attends the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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48 Responses to “Jay-Z’s NFL deal involves the Super Bowl halftime shows AND a franchise”

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  1. Aenflex says:

    I’m sure it was in large part financially motivated. However, I also think a real desire to change attitudes and practices is also present. J is no fool.

    • runcmc says:

      I disagree. I don’t know that I would call jay a fool, but he is very money-motivated…just listen to the lyrics of basically any of his songs. The man worships money over everything. He had the audacity to lie saying he reached out to Kap, probably expecting him to back up the lie and Kap was like “nope. You never called.”

      Jay made a financially lucrative decision, but he deserves the criticism that he stabbed his community in the back by making that choice.

      • aenflex says:

        I meant that J is no fool because he took the deal. It’s likely very lucrative, and he knows he will likely bounce back from the optics because basically everything he touches turns golden.

        However, if he can affect change in a historically racist industry, I think more power to him. How else is something like the NFL going rise from its ashes but on the wings of someone like J? I’m partially being satirical, but I do hope that he and his group are able to affect change. I think trying for that is more effective than canceling…

      • TQ says:

        @runcmc Totally Agree.

        Can’t say I’m surprised. Jay’s always been about the paper. He pulled the same thing in 2013 when Barneys was racially profiling black folks and he got into bed with them to preserve his deal with the retailer and ‘change’ from within [eye roll]. (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/18/jay-z-barneys-racial-profiling).


    • LadyLaw says:

      The only change he is going to effect is his pocketbook.

      1) the Williams sisters already own a stake in an NFL thing. That type of representation isn’t enough to effect real change.
      2) Additionally, Jay, like the Williams sisters, is not going to be a majority owner. Note that they just said significant ownership interest. I think most of these team owners have a net worth 2-5xs greater than him. I will actually be surprised if he even gets 10% of a crap team.
      3) when Jay-z has had a “seat at the table” in the past he has NEVER used it to advance positive change or increase diversity. Prime example was that after he acquired Tidal there appeared to be literally NO employees of color (you can google the photo).

      I am not shocked that he’s continuing to be true to who he has always been. I just can’t believe he would pressure black entertainers not to perform during the halftime last Super Bowl and then do this.

    • Snappyfish says:

      He lost me with the “the time for kneeling is over” comment.

      • LadyT says:

        Kap answered that comment of J’s via IG today. Photos of kneeling players captioned with-Continue to fight for the people…continue to put their beliefs into actions. Stay strong brothers.

      • Patty says:

        Yep. Jay is in this to make money. He doesn’t care if the NFL changes. And the NFL is stupid for thinking that aligning with Jay-Z will suddenly make everyone turn on a blind eye to their shenanigans – Jay has basically made himself the equivalent of the I have a black friend card people like to pull out. Shawn Carter is now that person for the NFL.

  2. Nev says:

    Team Kap.
    I wonder if Jay has a trick up his sleeve. Or some move. He IS a capitalist. Ugh.

  3. Arizona says:

    didn’t he just talk about how the NFL needs him he doesn’t need them in their song apeshit? I don’t know. I’ll be interested in what he does with the halftime show I guess.

  4. Wilma says:

    I’m going to wait a bit to see what he is actually going to do.

    • brooksie says:

      I am too.

    • Kitten says:

      Same. As long as only old white men own NFL franchises, things will never change. I do think Jay’s motivated by money but maybe also a desire to affect real change, too? IDK….

      • LadyT says:

        I wish he wasn’t caught in a lie first thing. Said he called Kap. Kap says it didn’t happen. There goes my trust.

      • Tate says:

        @LadyT That is where I am at too. Why start the whole thing off with a lie? Did he assume Kap wouldn’t say anything?

      • LadyT says:

        Kap called out J’s “moved past kneeling” comment today on IG. They’re definitely not on the same page.

    • eto says:

      Same. He’s done a lot of good for the community, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

  5. Jules says:

    You sell your soul to the devil, and there’s no way out. It’s all about the $$$, cleverly disguised as altruistic.

  6. Prettykrazee says:

    I am a business. Man. – Jay Z

    He says it best. It’s also being said the the NFL offer JD a similar deal. JayZ called him and told him not to do it. I am no fan of JD but that is grimy. The entire deal is grimy. JayZ couldn’t get through the press conference without constantly stuttering. So he knows it’s grimy too.
    I had Sunday Ticket, so I spent hundreds of dollars to watch my team every year, bc I’m out of market. I haven’t watched or brought any NFL paraphernalia in years. I don’t miss it. I don’t plan on starting up again just bc JayZ decided to get in bed with them.

    • Acires says:

      Same here, was already feeling weird about football with CTE and had stopped watching. I started watching again because of Kap’s protests. I watch basketball now 🙂

      • Prettykrazee says:

        I like basketball but I loved football. I am EXACTLY why this deal was made. Someone who used to spend a lot of money every year supporting their team. I live near both AFC/NFC teams. Some years we went to multiple games to see my team play if they were in the area. Good seats aren’t cheap.

        But all that stopped once I took of my blinders and really looked at the NFL. As you mentioned the way the NFL handled CTE was shameful. NFL doesn’t offer retired players health insurance and their pension is awful. The NFL brokering a deal with JayZ will not make me forget all I have learned.

  7. STRIPE says:

    Seems to me that Reid’s comments about Jay-Z is hypocritical given that he is still playing in and making money from the NFL. If he’s still doing business with the NFL, why can’t Jay? Maybe I’m missing something but it doesn’t seem like fair criticism.

    To be clear I’m not saying that the criticism of Jay Z is unfair generally speaking. Just trying to understand the logic of this specific person, someone making money from the NFL, being mad at someone for doing the same.

    • Prettykrazee says:

      I disagree. This is Eric Reid job. This is how he makes a living. He trained most of his life to get that job. Unlike basketball there is nowhere else he can go. He’s like millions of other people that puts up with discriminatory work practices to provide for their family.

      There is no comparison between him and Jayz. Jay has plenty of ways to make money.

      • STRIPE says:

        Really great point. I would think he would have the means at this point to quit and start a new career if he wanted to, but I could absolutely be wrong.

      • Ummmm says:

        He could find another job. Start a business. He doesn’t have to be there

      • Prettykrazee says:

        Eric Reid is extremely talented at what he does. He makes good money. More than most NFL players but he isn’t on a Tom Brady/Russell Wilson level. He hasn’t been playing that long. IIRC, He doesn’t have any lucrative endorsement deals. He doesn’t have a college degree. This is what he has trained to do. It is his livelihood. It’s really easy for people to say he should just get another job. Or start a business. That’s a response discriminated workers always hear.

      • bonobochick says:

        Good points.

    • Yup, Me says:

      There are some really good resources that explain why the NFL pay structure is so f*cked up. Unlike many other sports, players are not guaranteed to be paid their entire contractual package (unless it is explicitly stated in their contract). The NFL can terminate a contract at any time and not pay the rest of the money owed. If a player gets injured, if a player has a bad season or two, if a player runs afoul of the decision makers. It’s terrible. They cut them loose and just replace them with a younger (oftentimes less savvy) player. Terry Crews has talked about it, too.

      You should better educate yourself about it before making pronouncements about who should just up and quit their jobs.

      • STRIPE says:

        I’m actually very familiar with NFL contracts, but everything you said has nothing to do with Eric Reid. He hasn’t been dropped so he’s making at least the league minimum of $480k/year and has been for several years. I’m not telling anyone what to do or saying he should quit his job. What I am saying is if he wanted to he is (in theory, assuming he hasn’t spent all his money) in a unique position to invest his money elsewhere and create a new life for himself.

        You’re right that they are awfully structured contracts. But what you said has nothing to do with Eric Reid’s situation as he is still playing and being paid.

    • WTF says:

      I agree with all of the above. Also, if you sued your employer for the gender-pay gap (assuming you actually could), that doesn’t mean you quit your job. Eric Reid shouldn’t have to quit his job to make his point. He sued them, and he’s still kneeling. And he has stood in solidarity with Kap. Jay didn’t even bother to give Kap a head’s up, and then he lied and said he did.

  8. Jessica says:

    lol he’s not trying to “change the system from the inside,” he is all about the $$$ and he hops on social justice movements when it’s beneficial to his image to do so…we need to stop pretending the ultrarich (yes, including the people we like!) care about anyone but themselves and their coin.

    Also this: https://mobile.twitter.com/nessnitty/status/1161716216958001152

  9. Iknow says:

    This is an opportunistic move on Jay-z’s part. He and his wife are unapologetically capitalist. They’re main intention is to build a massive conglomerate for their children. He used black pain, in the guise of change, to make money. Full stop. Here is my question: will people still be fined for taking the knee? His “we’ve moved past kneeling” says yes.

  10. Harryg says:

    I can’t stand him, sorry. I find him so ridiculously pompous.

  11. Becks1 says:

    I used to love football, and now I’m meh on it for a variety of reasons, but the slavery comparison is one of the big reasons. It’s so gross to me to see rich white men up in their boxes watching (mostly) black athletes compete (at great personal risk to themselves) so the rich white men can become richer. And when you see Jerry Jones in the locker room after a game with the team…..its sickening.

    Anyway, I agree with others that Jay is a capitalist. He’s going to do what he needs to do to make more money and grow his business/empire. But, I can see why many are saying it feels like a stab in the back.

  12. HELEN says:

    jay z is *the worst*

  13. Patty says:

    I’ve never liked Jay-Z. He gets a pass for a lot of bad behavior and actions that illustrate his poor character. He used Kap to make more money and get himself a football franchise. Jay doesn’t care about anything other than making another dollar. Let’s put it in another context. Montgomery bus boycott: Jay-Z supports it and pays a lot of lip service to it until the city of Montgomery offers him a few buses and a contract for a percentage of the cities business – suddenly we’ve moved beyond that. People need to realize that Jay is no savior nor is he a hero or down to do the work that would be required to make an actual difference. The man only cares about money. Kanye shrug.

  14. Lala11_7 says:

    He’s a hyena…who comes into a messed up situation and exploit the heck out of it…to line his pockets….

    Just like he did with the Barney’s situation…

  15. Renee says:

    He didn’t speak to Kap before this deal was done. That is the story. He can wear a Kap jersey all he wants & talk about how he supports him, but he never bothered to speak to him before making a deal with the NFL.

  16. Tiff says:

    Siri, play Ether

  17. lilwing1979 says:

    Ugh I can’t with Jay-Z… just backstabbin his way to the dollarz:


  18. Shana says:

    NFL really thinks they can fix all of their misdeeds by paying off one black man who’s already beyond wealthy? I really really doubt he’ll be able to drive the change “within”

  19. Yes Doubtful says:

    I think Jay is right that the conversation needs to move forward, but the NFL is clearly using him to gain favor. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he does. If players can make money off the NFL and fans can watch the NFL, why can’t he too?