‘You Need Me, I Don't Need You’? Jay-Z and the NFL Are Now Doing Business Together

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Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)

Jay-Z and his entertainment and sports company, Roc Nation, will be partnering up with the NFL starting this year to serve as the league’s “live music entertainment strategist.” The collaboration comes despite Jay-Z having been, for a time, a vocal critic of the league, due to the way they handled widespread police brutality protests during the 2016-2017 season.


You know, the whole blackballing Colin Kaepernick thing.

The deal, reported on by the New York Times and slated to be announced on Wednesday, will see Roc Nation and Jay-Z “consulting on entertainment, including the Super Bowl halftime show, and contributing to the league’s activism campaign, Inspire Change,” the paper writes.

Jay-Z, who once bragged about turning down a Super Bowl halftime performance (“You need me, I don’t need you” ring any bells?), told the Times this week, “The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive.”

“They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good,” the rapper and mogul continued.

It’s pretty telling that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell struck a similar note, hinting at Jay-Z’s former criticism of the league in his comments to the Times.

“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,” Goodell said. “I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organizations, and with Jay and I personally.”


Wow—look at this energy! Wanting people to tell us what we can do better—isn’t that exactly what Kaepernick was doing when he took a knee? The same Kaepernick that has been out of an NFL job since 2017?

It’s been almost three years since the first time Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, a gesture meant to express his pain over repeated and ongoing incidents of police brutality (and one that he repeatedly confirmed as such). Though the protests ultimately cost him his NFL career, Kaepernick was applauded by many for this activism, in particular from Jay-Z, who wore a Kaepernick jersey during a fall 2017 SNL performance, and referred to the former quarterback as an “iconic figure.”


“Would you rather be playing football, getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?” Jay-Z told CNN’s Van Jones last year.


He added, “We confuse the idea of having a job with fulfilling your purpose.”


I’m curious as to what, if any, involvement or say Kaepernick had in the deal. The financial terms of the deal also haven’t been shared yet.

Also unsettled: Where on Jay-Z’s “fulfilling your purpose” Venn diagram is securing a bag from the NFL to play the role of glorified entertainment broker and image-consultant lands?


What more can you say when money talks this loud?



It’s almost as if rich black people don’t really give a fuck about you, and capitalism is bullshit. Funny how that works.