The Roc and the NFL are teaming up.
JAY-Z’s Roc Nation is set to announce a “sweeping business partnership” with the NFL, according to Front Office Sports. A press conference is reportedly scheduled for Wednesday in New York.
The alliance would be a major move for both sides. Partnering with Roc Nation would help give the NFL more credibility with a younger, urban audience. Meanwhile, Roc Nation would benefit from its affiliation with the nation’s most powerful sports league as it looks to further expand into sports.
Roc Nation Sports is home to athletes including Saquon Barkley, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Other sports clients include NFL stars Todd Gurley and Dez Bryant, NBA superstar Kyrie Irving, MLB pitcher CC Sabathia, and boxing champs Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward.
The NFL has faced controversy in recent years over how it handles players protesting racial and social justice, most notably with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem.
In a show of support, JAY-Z reportedly declined a performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. “I said no to the Super Bowl: You need me, I don’t need you / Every night we in the endzone, tell the NFL we in stadiums to,” he rapped on The Carters’ hit “APESHIT.”
UPDATE: The New York Times has confirmed the partnership between Roc Nation and the NFL. As part of the deal, Roc Nation will be the NFL’s “live music entertainment strategist,” consulting on entertainment, including the Super Bowl halftime show, and contributing to the league’s social-justice program, Inspire Change, which donates money to groups fighting for criminal justice reform.
“The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” said JAY-Z, who has been a critic of the league in the past. “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
As co-producer of the Super Bowl halftime show, JAY-Z will have a role in selecting and producing the country’s most-watched music performance. Black entertainers including JAY-Z and Rihanna have turned down the gig in the past in support of Kaepernick.
“We don’t want people to come in and necessarily agree with us; we want people to come in and tell us what we can do better,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organizations, and with JAY and I personally.”