Why I Believe Jay-Z’s Track Record Should Move Us To Trust His NFL Partnership

"Has Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter not earned at least the benefit of the doubt from the Black community?"

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

| August 27 2019,

02:26 am

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Everyone’s favorite Black capitalist is back in the news again with a very intriguing power move. The great Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, who once said, “put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth,” is once again proving his strong business acumen.

With a position title that doesn't need a name (but we’re still unsure of) and for an amount of dollars that hasn’t been disclosed, Jay-Z inked a partnership deal with the NFL. He will be instrumental in the league’s social-justice program as well as the league's entertainment program — including the NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show. Besides the very predictable uproar from Tomi Lahren, this move has surprisingly been criticized just as much as it’s been celebrated.

For anyone who asks why (at least on this side of the separate but equal side), just know there is a huge Colin Kaepernick-sized hole right in the middle of the deal. That is correct: new paperwork for Jay, none for Kaep — and the people are talking. 

 Kaepernick championed the cause, spearheaded the movement and has since become a living martyr as he continues to live in exile of the NFL. Even with a three-year hiatus, one cannot convince the masses that there are 64 quarterbacks (starter and backup) better than Collin Kaepernick. His choice to kneel during the national anthem (to bring awareness to police brutality) has undoubtedly made him the odd man out of the NFL while simultaneously making him the face of modern social activism.

One of his earliest and biggest supporters, (besides, of course, the recent NFL-employed and former teammate Eric Reid) has certainly been the Black Bruce Wayne himself, Jay-Z. Jay even went as far as turning down millions of dollars in denying the request to perform at the 2019 NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show.

All of the on the field and off the field factors has made Jay-Z's partnership with the NFL more intriguing. Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z mentioned they spoke with Kaepernick, yet neither disclosed any details on how that conversation went. Judging by Kaepernick's continued silence, I cannot see him taking part in the apparent kumbaya between the NFL and Black America.

Jay-Z boldly stated that the NFL "needs me" and not vice versa — and he is correct, to a certain extent. The truth is the NFL's ratings and viewership have been kneeling long before Colin Kaepernick and continue to do so. Yet, their pockets are in full salute as they reach all-time highs in revenue.

The NFL is at an interesting crossroad where the decline of TV viewership is a cause for concern, the effects of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) on former and active players have gone from plausible deniability (on part of the NFL) to "oh, you guys are just going to ignore all that traumatic brain injury research." And even scarier for the NFL, public knowledge of CTE has led to decreased participation among the youth. The last thing America’s surviving old boys club needed was the public uproar initiated by Colin Kaepernick, and later inflamed by President Donald Trump when he condemned the protest in one of his many State of the Union Twitterstorms.

The NFL has repeatedly been dragged by its shield on complex questions concerning race that matter most to the Black community, only for those same Black fans to receive direct and indirect responses from team ownership that leaves them feeling alienated. Indeed, the NFL came to a pact with the NFL Player's Coalition to commit over 90 million dollars towards efforts and programs that combat social inequality. Nonetheless, to the public those efforts seem barren in cultivating a more fruitful relationship with the youth as well as Black NFL fans. This is especially evident, considering Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed, with his beliefs seemingly being the reason. With the collective efforts of the league failing to bring a more amicable conclusion and more negative press at every turn, they had no choice but to head to the highest rooftop and light the forever illuminate "Hov signal." If anyone could bridge a gap of this magnitude and broker a more positive image between the Black community and the NFL, it would without a doubt be the Yankee-fitted crusader, Jay-Z. 

Still, to many this felt like the moment the great Shawn Carter finally transformed into the villain: the Marcy Projects legend consumed by greed aligning himself with the corporate head of a public enemy. And doing so without even a phone call to our beloved Colin Kaepernick.

"How could you Hov?" This is what I reckon his protesters yelled at their screens when details of this partnership broke the news. The obvious press conference bromance between Commissioner Goodell and his new partner, Jay, appeared to have been established well before going public in our eyes. A bromance that should have been a bro-trio with Kaepernick's voluptuous afro rocking back and forth in laughter next to Jay's — whatever Jay is doing with his hair.

Yet, we were met with a blonde combover sitting next to our Black American Dream personified. What were we all to think? Probably what we should've thought when Colin Kaepernick settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, in a confidential agreement, in his collusion lawsuit against the NFL — the actual movement is more important.

The original overwhelming awe of Goodell and Jay next to each other should have immediately subsided when you realized, A) Jay-Z is a capitalist (and a damn good one) and B) he has put himself in a rare position to go from the outlet to the source itself — from outside angst to inside facilitator of principles that matter to us. Not simply as an individual. And his ability to galvanize the community is remarkable.

The criticism he has received for this partnership has been in full swing, yet we know little to no details concerning the actual plans of this deal. Has Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter not earned at least the benefit of the doubt from the Black community? Has his business savvy and social justice activism not instilled enough confidence that he can accept an offer such as this? Enough confidence to look us — the sometimes overly sensitive Black community — in our eyes and say the movement was never about getting Colin Kaepernick a job, just as Colin Kaepernick kneeling was never about disrespecting the military.

For this particular issue the NFL needed a particular set of skills. Jay-Z, along with Roc Nation, is the best team for the role. I advise anyone who is upset or simply surprised by this move to take a listen to The Blueprint album. Go to a track called “U Don’t Know” and you’ll truly understand that you are watching a smart Black man at work.

This is the same Jay-Z that brought light to the Kalief Browder story, freed Meek while many was just using the hashtag and went toe-to-toe with ICE on behalf of 21 Savage. and let’s not forget that this is also the same Jay-Z that proclaimed, “I’m a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a whale.” However, in this case, I believe Jay is simply selling water to a well that’s run dry.




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