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The fallout from the NFL’s recently announced partnership with billionaire rapper Jay-Z continues, spreading to the practice field of the Miami Dolphins.
As Yahoo! Sports reported, “New coach Brian Flores chooses the music at Miami Dolphins practice, and on any other day that information is of no use to almost anyone.
On Tuesday, it was very relevant.
Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills was critical of Jay-Z on Monday for entering a partnership with the NFL. Stills isn’t the first player to criticize Jay-Z. Stills also this summer said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ support of President Donald Trump doesn’t align with his RISE non-profit initiative for equality.
So what did Flores do at practice after Stills ripped Jay-Z? He had eight straight Jay-Z songs play to start practice.”
Ouch? Was it meant as a joke or a tweak? Take your pick.
However, it should be noted, Coach Flores is one of only three black head coaches in the NFL.
Just to review, Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, is currently being vilified by the black community for having the temerity to partner with the National Football league, and seemingly brush off Colin Kaepernick’s efforts to bring awareness to racial inequity and police violence against people of color in the US, by kneeling in protest during the National Anthem.
During a press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce Roc Nation’s partnership, Carter said regarding Kaepernick’s protests, “I think we’ve passed kneeling. I think it’s time to go to actionable items.”
Carter went on to say he still supports protests in general: “I don’t want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling—I know we’re stuck on it ’cause it’s a real thing—it’s a form of protest. I support protesting across the board.”
“I’m not minimizing [protests] because that has to happen, that’s a necessary part of the process,” he continued. “And now we all know what’s going on. What are we going to do? How are we gonna stop, because the kneeling was not about a job, it was about injustice. Let me bring attention to injustice. Everyone’s saying, ‘How are you going forward if Kaep doesn’t have a job.’ This wasn’t about him having a job. That became a part of the discussion. He was kneeling to bring attention to injustice. We know what it is. Now how do we address the injustice?”
How Carter’s potentially lucrative deal with the NFL to produce half-time shows will tangibly help the victims of injustice is unclear. Critics are branding Jay-Z a sellout for his partnership, and slamming the NFL for cynically “buying” social credibility in a league where 70 percent of the players are black, compared to zero percent of the team owners.
But generally left out of this entire discussion is the fact that the NFL is a business, and Jay-Z is a businessman. The NFL puts on a show, and fans are free to decide whether it’s a show they want to support or not.
No one has to watch the games, or buy tickets. No one is forced to play for the NFL. Players are free to quit — or go on strike.
Yet the NFL seems to be held to a different standard than all other businesses, and all other entertainment companies. Why?
By most measurements, Jay-Z should be a shining example of triumph over black adversity. He grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father abandoned his family, and he and his three siblings were raised by their mother. According to his own lyrics, Jay-Z shot his own brother when he was twelve, and sold crack cocaine during his teen years, never receiving a high school diploma.
Nonetheless, he went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, with over 125 million records sold worldwide, earning 22 Grammy awards. He founded Roc-a-Fella records, clothing retailer Rocawear, the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 club, and the entertainment company Roc Nation. He acquired the tech company Aspiro and took charge of Tidal, one of the world’s largest online streaming service.
But all of that success is being swept aside because he no longer looks “woke” enough.
Ultimately, will the majority of American football fans give a crap? We’ll soon find out. Forget the hyperventilating by the entertainment and sports media over Jay-Z and Colin Kaepernick. Attendance and viewership during this 2019 NFL season will provide the real answer — and the only measure that ultimately matters to the NFL.