Roc Nation, big save for the NFL’s culture

The NFL is in trouble, but the game itself is fine. What’s in jeopardy is the culture surrounding the league. From domestic violence to social justice issues, the NFL is in a tough spot and its reputation is slipping.

A large percent of the league’s Black fanbase has become dissatisfied with the way those issues have been handled. More specifically the way the league dealt with the Colin Kaepernick situation of 2016.

To boost those deficiencies, the NFL has taken a step in the right direction by agreeing to work with Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper, businessman, and activist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter to lead the NFL’s efforts in music and entertainment.

In this long-term partnership, Roc Nation’s responsibility will be to direct the selection of artists for NFL events, including the Super Bowl and will play a leading role in producing and promoting new music.

This partnership begins as the NFL celebrates its 100th season. It will also help in efforts to push the league’s Inspire Change initiative. This partnership with Roc Nation will take the Inspire Change initiative further than the NFL would be able to by itself.

“With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country,” Jay-Z said. “Roc Nation has shown that entertainment and enacting change are not mutually exclusive ideas — instead, we unify them. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also believes this partnership will be beneficial.

“Roc Nation is one of the most globally influential and impactful organizations in entertainment,” Goodell said. “The NFL and Roc Nation share a vision of inspiring meaningful social change across our country. We are thrilled to partner with Roc Nation and look forward to making a difference in our communities together.”

Goodell may not be popular among many for the way he’s managed certain issues in the NFL over the past few years, but in this case, he hit the nail on the head by seeking out such a revered person to partner with.

Everything Jay touches turns to gold. Despite being the first rapper to reach a $1 billion net worth, he knows how to reach people.

Since 2016, the NFL has been disconnected with the Black community as a whole. The former NFL quarterback hasn’t played a football game since the conclusion of the 2016 season and the league, nor the owners have been transparent in their reasoning. Kaepernick did settle a collusion grievance against the league for an undisclosed financial settlement, but that doesn’t change the principle and that’s what the Black community and many others are disgruntled about.

Jay-Z has been vocal in his disgust with the Kaepernick situation and is one of the most vocal figures in the Black community. If there’s anybody that can turn the tide for the NFL’s perception culturally, it is Jay-Z and anything he’s involved in.

The NFL is a fan and player-driven league, so the focus is always to cater to them. There has been a weird disconnect with the three sides for two consecutive seasons, and one more may hurt the league’s bottom line.

That’s the reason Goodell and the NFL sought out Roc Nation to partner with them. They need to be astute when it comes to culture and they know that. The NFL has seen the steps Adam Silver and the NBA has taken over the past half-decade in making that association more inclusive, and realize they need to follow suit to save their league from self-destruction.

This is a 70 percent Black league and again, it’s run by its players, so why not appeal to them? Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? It finally seems like that NFL understands that and could be taking steps to heal that fractured relationship.

About Author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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