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.”