Lyrics stay with us forever.
In 2018, Jay-Z said: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you / Every night we in the end zone / tell the NFL we in stadiums too.” A year later, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation partnered with the NFL — for an unspecified amount of money we still don’t know — “to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts.”
Since then, a lot of bad things have happened in the world of social and racial justice in America — and especially in the NFL. And as we’re in this moment in which the NFL has been rocked by Brian Flores’s 58-page class-action lawsuit against the league, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and the Denver Broncos alleging discrimination regarding his interview process, it’s beyond fair to ask:
Below is a list of a few really bad things that have happened to Black people when it comes to racial and social justice issues and the NFL ever since that fateful day when Jay-Z said, “we’ve moved past kneeling.”
• Roger Goodell informed us that he and the league had “moved on” from Colin Kaepernick after they attempted to throw a last-minute sham of a workout for him in Atlanta that was going to be closed to the media. Jay-Z was nowhere to be found.
• In the summer of 2020, due to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and the shooting of Jacob Blake, the entire sports world paused and took to one knee in peaceful protests. MLB and NHL players even kneeled, along with Nancy Pelosi. Jay-Z still hasn’t taken back his “kneeling” comments that were proven wrong.
• A group of celebrities put their money together to buy billionaire New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft — who once had prostitution charges against him — a brand-new Bentley for his 80th birthday. Jay-Z chipped in.
• When the NFL agreed to end race norming — the practice of adjusting test scores to account for the race or ethnicity of the test-taker — in their $1 billion settlement that was preventing Black players from receiving payouts they were rightfully owed, Jay-Z was silent.
• Jon Gruden got fired because his old emails proved that he was racist, homophobic, and a misogynist. He made comments about NFL Players Association president DeMaurice Smith — a Black man — in 2011 when he said, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.” Everybody had something to say about this, except Jay-Z.
• At this moment when Brian Flores and Hue Jackson are discussing the plight of Black head coaches in the NFL which has been an issue for decades, we’re still waiting on Jay-Z to do something.
In the name of balance, for all the people that still choose to be in denial about how Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL is nothing more than a selfish business/power move instead of an “uplifting gesture” he portrays it to be for Black America — I want to point out that in 2020, Jay-Z helped Mississippi inmates file two lawsuits about the horrendous conditions they were being forced to live in. He’s also probably played a huge role in reaching out to his friends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar to have them perform in the Blackest Super Bowl Halftime of all time
But, if that’s all we can really point to as accomplishments from him getting a “seat at the table,” then what was it all for? Because if you think this is “inspiring change,” I’m here to inform you that it’s not. And to think, all of this started with Jay-Z bragging about the NFL on a song. No wonder he’s trying to get lawmakers to pass a bill that will block rap lyrics from being used in court.