The mercurial, highly successful rapper and business mogul Jay-Z reportedly did something this week that few folks in or out of the entertainment business ever do: he said no to the National Football League.
According to a story first reported in "The Source," and subsequently confirmed on other websites like Allhiphop.com before going viral and then making it into mainstream publications, Jay-Z turned down an invitation to be guest performer for the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show. This is one of the prime showcases for any performer, one that gives them a chance to be seen before a worldwide audience that has at times topped the 100 million mark.
But that made no difference to Jay-Z, who a few weeks ago publicly expressed his support for and solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has been mostly ignored the entire preseason by NFL teams, getting only one visit with the Seattle Seahawks. While head coach Pete Carroll later expressed his belief that Kaepernick deserved to be on a team, the Seahawks ultimately passed on him.
The same thing later happened in Baltimore, where both head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome were reportedly ready to offer Kaepernick a contract before the team owner intervened.
The Kaepernick situation has become so obvious that even some of his fellow quarterbacks have publicly discussed it. Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady each has said they feel Kaepernick should be a team.
While Jay-Z hasn't yet publicly disclosed his reasons for turning down the NFL, it is quite interesting in light of the fact that his wife Beyoncé appeared at Super Bowl 50. Michael and Janet Jackson, as well as Prince have been previous halftime performers.
Jay-Z's resume and popularity might have brought the NFL some good news in what's been a rough summer and early fall. Ratings are down on all telecasts, and there's also a boycott going in two different circles.
Several Black fans, upset about the treatment of Kaepernick, have been boycotting all NFL games. Meanwhile on the other side, there are right-wing types angered at what they deem disrespect of the flag and national anthem due to Kaepernick's taking a knee who are also boycotting.
But if the NFL's purpose in not giving Kaepernick a chance to play was trying to silence protest, it has had the opposite effect. Players on such teams as the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns have done team protests, while other athletes like Seattle's Michael Bennett and Oakland's Marshawn Lynch are doing their own version of Kaepernick's protest.
Kaepernick reaffirmed last week for anyone who doubted it that he still wants to play, and is ready and willing if any team should choose him.. Meanwhile Jay-Z, who at times over the years has been attacked by more militant/nationalist types for not being more vocal politically, has certainly taken a stand guaranteed to delight some people and anger others..