Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL announced Tuesday that they have entered into a multiyear partnership “to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts,” according to NFL.com.
Roc Nation, an entertainment company, will advise on NFL performances, such as the Super Bowl. The partnership will seek to “nurture and strengthen community through football and music, including through the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative,” according to the league’s site. The initiative tries to foster positive change in communities nationwide, NFL.com said.
Roc Nation declined to comment on the partnership but is expected to address the media on Wednesday.
“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” said Jay-Z, according to NFL.com. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them.”
Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, said the partnership is a chance to “strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”
In an interview at Roc Nation’s New York offices, Jay-Z told The Washington Post: “I think we have autonomy.”
“I anticipate that there will be a lot of — with any big organization, in this building right here we have internal problems,” the rapper and businessman told the paper. “Anything that’s new is going to go through its growing pains. We put what we want to do on the table. The NFL agreed to it. So we’re going to proceed with that as if we have a partnership.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league and Roc Nation “share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country,” according to NFL.com.
Fans and hip-hop stars have criticized the NFL over its treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick decided to sit and then kneel during the National Anthem before several 2016 NFL preseason and regular-season games to protest the police shootings of black men and other social injustices faced by African-Americans. He has not played in the National Football League since the 2016 season.
He became a free agent in 2017 but no team offered him a contract.
That year, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league, accusing team owners of colluding to keep him from being signed. Goodell has denied the league’s team owners conspired to ensure that Kaepernick is not signed, saying, “Teams are making the best decision for what they need, as a football team.”
Jay-Z has said he would “100%” advise Kaepernick to do the same thing and stand against racism in this country, despite losing his job for it.
He also called Kaepernick an “iconic” figure.
Jay-Z acknowledged to the Post that he did have apprehension about the partnership in the current climate. Kaepernick remains unsigned.
“I think that when you’re discussing these sort of issues, everything is going to be tough,” Carter said. “You can either go home, you can pack your bag and sit in the house or you can choose to take it head-on. And that’s pretty much how we operate at Roc Nation. We seek to identify things that we want to be a part of and things that we believe that we can add value to, and we step in and we come with these ideas. And to their credit, the NFL agreed to these ideas,” he told the Post.
Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid, who knelt with Kaepernick, settled their collusion grievances cases against the NFL in February.
Reid seemed less than impressed by the announcement of the Roc Nation-NFL partnership. Responding to a user who tweeted that it “seems kinda weird” that he would denounce such a venture while being employed by the Carolina Panthers, Reid replied that they were separate issues.
“You & some others seem to misunderstand that we had no beef with the NFL until they started perpetuating the systemic oppression that we are fighting by blackballing Colin and then me. Nah I won’t quit playing but I will be a royal pain in the NFL’s a** for acting like they care about people of color by forming numerous disingenuous partnerships to address social injustice while collectively blackballing Colin, the person who brought oppression and social injustice to the forefront of the NFL platform,” Reid said in a pair of tweets.
Last week, Kaepernick released a video saying he has been out of work for more than 800 days and was “still ready” to play professional football.
An attempt by CNN to contact representatives for Kaepernick was unsuccessful. The National Football League Players Association declined to comment.