During the Chargers-Patriots ass-beating on Sunday, the NFL officially announced what had been rumored for months: the Super Bowl XLIII halftime show will feature Maroon 5 as headliners, with supporting slots from Travis Scott and, in what amounted to the only surprising bit of the announcement, Outkast’s Big Boi.
While it was accepted (with groans, but accepted) that of course Maroon 5 would play the biggest stage they could find, there was some disappointment at the inclusion of the two rappers on the bill. Not because fans didn’t want to hear their music, but because of the NFL’s ongoing fight against Colin Kaepernick, which still rages in both the court of public opinion and an actual court of law. And while Big Boi’s surprise inclusion led to a flurry of pushback this week, Scott has been on the receiving end of the most criticism since rumors first began circulating about his involvement back in December.
To say that the reaction was swift and negative from the pro-Kaepernick crowd would be an understatement. In taking the gig and working with the NFL, Scott was crossing a picket line of sorts, one that such popular artists as Rihanna and Cardi B have refused to cross until Kap’s situation is resolved. That resolution could well be a long ways off, as Kaepernick’s lawsuit alleging that the league colluded to blackball him after his racial inequality protests is still moving forward.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that Scott had spoken to Kaepernick about the halftime show, as well as the $500,000 donation that he and the NFL partnered up to make to Dream Corps, a self-described “social justice accelerator” run by CNN’s Van Jones. According to Scott’s camp, the tone of that conversation with Kaepernick was contentious but positive. Their statements seemed to hint at Kaepernick being okay with Scott performing, if not necessarily supportive of it:
A source close to Scott said that while the two did not necessarily agree, they emerged from the conversation with mutual respect and understanding, with the rapper taking the stance that everyone makes a statement in their own way and he felt that the money going toward Dream Corps, combined with the platform provided by the Super Bowl, will do some good.
TMZ also reported on the conversation, and that report was more explicit about Kaepernick not supporting Scott’s halftime show performance:
Before the contract was signed, sources tell us Travis reached out to Colin ... presumably to get him on board but not to ask for permission. We’re told Colin was not supportive of Travis performing at the Super Bowl, and the 2 men disagreed. Multiple sources characterize the conversation as “cordial and not hostile.”
The key difference in the reports comes from the word “understanding” in Variety’s article. That would seem to imply that, though they did not agree on everything discussed, the two men left the conversation on the same page. TMZ’s report, though, suggests that while it was not an angry conversation, Kaepernick in no way gave Scott his blessing.
After the Variety report made the rounds on Wednesday, Kaepernick jumped on Twitter and, as is his preferred method, went on a retweeting spree. The signals Kaepernick boosted all amplified messages that seemed to corroborate the TMZ report and suggest that the exiled quarterback does not approve of Scott’s choice to perform.
Kaepernick retweeted a tweet from activist Nessa, who is also Kaepernick’s partner, saying that there is “NO mutual respect and NO understanding” with Scott or “anyone working against [Kaepernick] PERIOD.”
Kaepernick also retweeted this, from radio personality Ebro:
The former Niners quarterback also shared a tweet insinuating that Dream Corps has been utilized by the NFL as a way to stop player protests of the kind that Kaepernick first brought to national attention in 2016:
Kaepernick has not put out an official statement regarding Scott’s involvement in the Super Bowl halftime show—or about Maroon 5's and Big Boi’s, for that matter. This is also probably a good time to note the old Twitter adage that “retweets are not endorsements.”
But they’re probably not accidents, either. Kaepernick has a history of letting others speak for him online, choosing instead to amplify messages with which he agrees instead of releasing a statement of his own. Perhaps he will buck that trend and speak up about Scott’s involvement with the halftime show. Perhaps Wednesday’s flurry of smashing that RT button will be all we get.
Either way, it seems clear that no matter what was or wasn’t said in the conversation between the two men, Kaepernick does not support Scott taking the stage in Atlanta on February 3.