Jay-Z defends NFL deal: 'This is more than' Colin Kaepernick 'not having a job'

Taryn Ryder

Jay-Z has clearly heard the critics following Tuesday's announcement of his deal with the NFL. The rapper, along with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, held a joint press conference Wednesday at Roc Nation’s offices to discuss their new entertainment and community activism partnership. Beyoncé's husband was asked how he could enter into such a business venture while Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned.

"I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice so in that case this is a success — this is the next thing. There’s two parts of protest: the protest, and then there’s a company or individual saying, ‘I hear you, what do we do next?’ For me it’s about actionable items, what are we gonna do about it?" he replied. "We get stuck on Colin not having a job, you know what I’m saying? And this is more than that."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 14:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay Z at the Roc Nation and NFL Partnership Announcement at Roc Nation on August 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay Z at the Roc Nation and NFL Partnership Announcement at Roc Nation on August 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

Jay-Z continued, "I support any protest that’s effective. I’m into action, I’m into real work — I’m not into how it looks from the outside. If protesting on the field is the most effective way, then protest on the field. But if you have a vehicle that can inspire change and speak to the masses at the same time, it’s hard to steal the narrative away."

Kaepernick is not involved in the deal, according to friend and Carolina Panthers safety, Eric Reid. As for whether that will change, Jay-Z told a reporter, "You’ll have to ask [Colin], I’m not his boss. That’s for him to say."

Both the entrepreneur and Goodell revealed they have had conversations with the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, but declined to give specific. For what it's worth, Goodell said that "any team" can sign Kaepernick.

Jay-Z reportedly got a bit defensive when a question about the national anthem protests was directed at him. "I’m sorry to put it this way, but if the national anthem were playing, would you kneel or stand?" a reporter asked.

After blinking "incredulously for a moment," per Variety, Jay-Z responded, "I think we’re past kneeling. I think it’s time for action."

Asked whether he wanted people to stop protesting, he shot back, "No, I don’t want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling is a form of protest. We need to bring light to the issue, I think everyone knows what the issue is" — he purportedly asked people around the table, "Do you know what the issue is? We all know the issue now — OK, next?"

Jay-Z continued, "To be clear to the room, I’m not minimizing that part of it, that’s a necessary part of the process. But now we all know what’s going on: The kneeling was not about Colin having a job, it was about ‘let me bring attention to injustice.’ Now how do we address that injustice? What’s the way forward?"

The rapper also confirmed reports from earlier this year that he tried to talk Travis Scott out of performing at the Super Bowl halftime show. But according to Jay-Z, it had nothing to do with the league's handling of Kaepernick and all to do with him not wanting to "see [Scott] playing second fiddle" to anyone after Kylie Jenner's boyfriend's "monster year."

Fans were divided after Tuesday's announcement, with some praising Jay-Z for a deal highlighting social awareness and others calling him a hypocrite.

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