Jay-Z, NFL Partner to Create 'Inspire Change' Apparel Line for Social Progress

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2019

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NFL - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and Jay-Z appear at a news conference at ROC Nation on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 in New York. The NFL and ROC Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment and sports representation company, announced Tuesday they were teaming up for events and social activism, a deal Jay-Z said had been in the works over the last seven months. (Ben Hider/AP Images for NFL)
Ben Hider/Associated Press

The National Football League and Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by Jay-Z, announced the first major aspects of their partnership Friday with an apparel line called "Inspire Change" and a music showcase titled "Songs of the Season."

TMZ Sports reported the first concert will take place Thursday night in Chicago ahead of the first NFL game of the league's 100th season, with Meek Mill, Meghan Trainor and Rapsody performing before the Chicago Bears face the Green Bay Packers.

Proceeds from the apparel line will help fund programs around the United States that focus on "economic empowerment, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform," per TMZ.

Jay-Z faced criticism for agreeing to work with the NFL while former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who jump-started the movement of kneeling for the national anthem to protest social injustice, has remained a free agent since March 2017.

While the rap legend said he supported Kaepernick's efforts, he told reporters it was time to take the next step toward tangible progress: "I think we've moved past kneeling, and I think it's time to go into actionable items." He added:

"No, I don't want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling, I know we're stuck on it because it's a real thing, but kneeling is a form of protest. I support protest across the board. ... I'm not minimizing that part of it because that has to happen, that's a necessary part of the process. But now that we all know what's going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it? Because the kneeling was not about a job, it was about injustice."

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman is not a fan of the partnership given Kaepernick's unemployed status:

mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL

Those of us who criticized the Jay-Z and NFL partnership predicted this. Honestly, this is disgraceful. And if you think profits won’t go in the pockets of Jay Z and the NFL you’re a fool. How do you with a straight face ban Kaepernick then make money off of him? https://t.co/XBHBIC7TsM

The star-studded lineup for the NFL Opening Night concert suggests Jay-Z will still receive plenty of support from the music community for the partnership, though.

No further details about the upcoming apparel line were immediately announced.