N.F.L. and Jay-Z Team Up on Music and Social Justice Campaign


Looking to move past more than two years of national uproar, which started when football players began to kneel during the national anthem, the N.F.L. has signed a deal with the rap star and impresario Jay-Z to gain a foothold in the music business and get a seal of approval from one of the country’s biggest African-American celebrities for its social justice efforts.

The deal with Roc Nation, the rapper’s entertainment and sports company, calls for the firm to be the N.F.L.’s “live music entertainment strategist,” a role that 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 N.F.L. is keen to portray the Roc Nation deal as a way to bring more high-profile entertainers to its events. It also represents an effort to quiet the long-running controversy over its handling of players kneeling or sitting during the national anthem — most notably by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback — and to form a bond with its most vigilant and influential critics.

“The N.F.L. has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” Jay-Z said in an interview this week. “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”