Jay-Z is defending his controversial partnership with the NFL, for which he has been accused of betraying former player Colin Kaepernick’s fight for racial justice.
The rap icon’s company Roc Nation partnered with the NFL on its entertainment presentations and Inspire Change Initiative, which was created after an agreement with a coalition of players who demonstrated during the national anthem to protest social and racial injustice in the U.S.
In an interview with The New York Times published Saturday, the billionaire said he was willing to take negative press coverage for the opportunity to use the NFL as a platform to raise awareness about police brutality.
“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” he said.
Super Bowl Sunday features the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers — the former team of Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
The 32-year-old, who remains an unsigned free agent, has accused the NFL of conspiring to keep him off the field. Early last year, he received less than $10 million to settle grievances with the league, according to people briefed on the deal.
“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong,” Jay-Z said. “I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?”