Jay-Z Discusses NFL Partnership, Says People Should Move Beyond Colin Kaepernick

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2020

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

Rap mogul Jay-Z believes Colin Kaepernick was "done wrong" by the NFL but thinks it is time to move on from him to a new chapter.

"No one is saying he hasn't been done wrong," Jay-Z told Katherine Rosman of the New York Times. "He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, 'What do we do now—because people are still dying?"

The NFL and Jay-Z's Roc Nation formed a partnership that gave the agency the ability to co-produce events such as the Super Bowl halftime show. The partnership also has a focus on social justice in addition to the entertainment factor.

Jay-Z and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a joint press conference to talk about the partnership in August, and the rapper expressed a similar sentiment when it came to Kaepernick:

"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."

That Jay-Z partnered with the NFL even though Kaepernick remained unsigned drew plenty of criticism, including from the quarterback's former teammate, Eric Reid.

"As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press," Jay-Z said of the backlash.

Rosman noted Roc Nation asked Goodell to spend $100 million on social justice outreach and causes over the next decade as part of the partnership. The league will broadcast a public service video during Sunday's Super Bowl addressing stories of black people who were killed by police.

The NFL's Inspire Change initiative already ran an advertisement during the conference championship games that told the story of Corey Jones, who was former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin's cousin. Jones was killed at the age of 31 by a plainclothes police officer in Florida after his car broke down in 2015.


Be the change. #InspireChange @AnquanBoldin | @InspireChange https://t.co/8AOv85BUVI

As for Kaepernick, he played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 through 2016 but has remained unsigned since he opted out of his contract in March 2017 even though he led the NFC West team to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game in back-to-back years.

He notably protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem prior to games.

Kaepernick and Reid sued the NFL for collusion and reached a settlement agreement.


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