Rihanna’s Reason For Turning Down Super Bowl Says A Lot About Her Stance On Jay Z’s NFL Deal: “I Just Couldn’t Be A Sellout”

October 9, 2019  |  

2017 Roc Nation Pre-GRAMMY Brunch

Source: Kevin Mazur / Getty

Rihanna is the cover girl for the November issue of Vogue. While she looked stunning, per the usual, on the front of the mag, inside of the pages, she talked open and honestly about her thoughts on some seriously complicated things, including her activism efforts and thoughts on politics.

In the interview, writer Abby Aguirre asked her if she could confirm or deny the rumors that she turned down the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show in a show of solidarity with seemingly blacklisted player Colin Kaepernick. He caused plenty of controversy for kneeling during the National Anthem at games, and because of it, has been a free agent since 2017. He sued the NFL accusing the league’s owners of colluding to keep him from playing. That suit was settled earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. Despite the settlement, Kaepernick is still without a team and the chances of him playing in the NFL in the future seem quite bleak.

With that struggle in mind, Rihanna answered “Absolutely” when asked if he was the inspiration behind her decision to decline the offer to perform.

“I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people,” she said. “I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

So one has to wonder, if she feels that there are “things within that organization” that are not okay, does she take issue with boss and friend Jay-Z’s deal with the league?

In case you missed it, it was announced in August by the NFL that they were partnering with the rap legend’s Roc Nation entertainment company. Rihanna is signed to Roc Nation.

While there is a social justice component in the deal, with the league pushing the Inspire Change initiative to advance social and racial justice in terms of police and community relations, education and economic advancement and criminal justice reform, the main part Roc Nation will play is in selecting artists for big NFL performances.

People had plenty to say about that partnership, a good chunk of it negative, since at no point did the rapper talk to Kaepernick about it, and he somewhat brushed off the player’s protest, which cost him his place in the NFL. During a press conference for the partnership he said, “I think we past kneeling. I think it’s time to go into actionable items” and said people shouldn’t get stuck on the fact that he’s without a job.

“I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to injustice,” he added. “There’s two parts of a protest, you go outside and you protest and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?’ So, for me, that was [taking] action.”

Interesting enough, Rihanna, in a subtle way, was one of those people who publicly shared some level of, let’s call it concern, over the deal.

It was reported that she liked a post from activist Shaun King (whom she went on to honor at her annual Diamond Ball in September), where he ripped Jay-Z for the partnership. She quickly unliked the post, but blogs had already started picking up on the fact that she did. We also haven’t seen Rihanna and Jay-Z in each other’s company since her Diamond Ball in 2017. That doesn’t mean they are no longer friendly, but the usually chummy pair have seemingly kept their distance.

Overall, she’s said nothing else directly on the matter of Jay-Z’s business moves with the NFL. She’s focused on her own business ventures instead. However, her comments in Vogue, specifically that she doesn’t want to go and be of service to the league in “any way,” certainly sends a message to people, including her old friend.

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