Jay-Z, Roger Goodell Discuss NFL and Roc Nation Deal, Colin Kaepernick and More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 14, 2019

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and Jay-Z appear at a news conference at ROC Nation on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in New York. A day after Jay-Z announced that his Roc Nation company was partnering with the NFL, the rap icon explained that he still supports protesting, kneeling and NFL player Colin Kaepernick, but he's also interested in working with the league to make substantial changes. (Ben Hider/AP Images for NFL)
Ben Hider/Associated Press

Jay-Z and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with selected media members in New York Wednesday to discuss the league and Roc Nation's two-fold entertainment and social justice partnership

The central topic proved to be former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, however.

Both sides have received post-partnership criticism given that Kaepernick—who received significant backlash after protesting social injustice and systemic oppression during the 2016 NFL season—has been out of NFL work for three years.

Jay-Z responded to the criticism, per Jason Reid of The Undefeated:

"We forget that Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase. There [are] two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, 'I hear you. What do we do next?'

"For me it's like action, [an] actionable item, what are we gonna do with it? Everyone heard, we hear what you're saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you're saying [in Kaepernick's underlying message]. So what are we gonna do? You know what I'm saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job."

Goodell also commented on the partnership:

"I don't think either one of us expected that this relationship wouldn't have its critics. But you don't let the critics or the negativity overwhelm the chance to do something really positive. We talked about this [Kaepernick's situation].

"We talked about a variety of issues. When we first met, we talked about entertainment and how we do that. But the No. 1 thing we went to was impact, that we can have an impact together, and that we can do some really positive things in our communities."

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, who has protested with Kaepernick, was among the numerous critics. In particular, Reid pointed out the timing of the news so soon after Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hosted a fundraiser for President Donald Trump:

Jay-Z has been a staunch supporter of Kaepernick, even wearing his jersey during a concert. According to TMZ Sports, Jay-Z reached out to the ex-quarterback after the deal was made.

The criticisms and concerns about the deal haven't stopped post-press conference, though, as Jay Connor of The Root noted.

"In all, with his vague responses, political correctness and questionable motives in light of his about-face during Colin Kaepernick's exile, Jay-Z didn't do a particularly good job at differentiating himself from the corporate shills that we've historically lambasted as a community," Connor wrote.

As for Jay-Z, he said he's trying to make "real change" through "real conversation and real work."

"... But people have to evolve," he said. "People have to want to be better and people have to want to have conversations. This isn't Twitter.

"You can't just throw someone out if they make a mistake. This is the real world. You can't say, 'Oh, you made a mistake, you're canceled. I'm never speaking to you again.' That's doesn't accomplish anything. That's what I believe. I believe real change is had through real conversation and real work."

The NFL's 100th season begins on Thursday, Sept. 5.

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