Jay-Z, Roc Nation Partner With NFL in New Entertainment, Social Justice Initiatives

Charlotte Carroll
Sports Illustrated

The NFL is teaming up with Jay-Z and his Roc Nation agency in a deal that will put the agency in charge of some of the league's entertainment and social justice endeavors, as first reported by the Washington Post's Mark Maske. 

According to Maske, Roc Nation will be co-producer of the Super Bowl halftime show, but the deal does not contain a provision for the rapper to perform the show. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in an interview he hopes Jay-Z will perform sometime in the next several years but, "I think we’ll all know if that time comes."

Through the partnership, Roc Nation will choose entertainers to perform in NFL content throughout the season, and Jay-Z, whose given name is Shawn Carter, said he believes the agency will have freedom in its choices and have "autonomy."

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According to Maske, the social justice portion will be tied into the NFL’s existing "Inspire Change" program.

"With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country," Jay-Z said, according to ESPN. "Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas -- instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America."

Jay-Z reportedly turned down the opportunity to perform at Super Bowl LI in 2018. At a concert around the time, Jay-Z dedicated a song to free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided to protest the national anthem before football games in order to raise awareness of social injustice in America. He's been vocal in support of the quarterback who has gone unsigned since the end of the 2016 NFL season.

Panthers safety Eric Reid, who knelt alongside Kaepernick when they were both on the San Francisco 49ers, chimed in to voice his opinion on the NFL's newest partnership with Jay-Z. He felt he was also being blackballed by the league before Carolina signed him one month into the 2018 season. 

Jay-Z had previously partnered in January with rapper Meek Mill and the owners of the 76ers, Nets and Patriots to launch The Reform Alliance, an organization taking on criminal justice reform.

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