The NFL is breaking from tradition this year.
On Tuesday, the league announced Super Bowl LIII halftime show performer Maroon 5 will not participate in the customary pre-game press conference. Previous halftime headliners like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Lady Gaga have gone in front of the press prior to taking the stage; but this year, the NFL says it'll forgo the presser and simply continue to promote the show on social media.
The NFL statement reads:
Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event. As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday. Starting with the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show announcement, we began a cross-platform rollout of behind-the-scenes footage and content from each of the halftime performers. Instead of hosting a press conference, this social and digital media rollout will continue through Sunday across our owned and operated media assets as well as through the platforms of the artists.
It's important to note that the NFL's statement doesn't use the term "canceled," but according to SportsBusiness Journal's Daniel Kaplan, the press conference had been listed on the league's schedule. This, of course, has raised more suspicions.
The Super Bowl LIII halftime show has been the center of controversy for months. Many artists and fans have criticized Maroon 5—as well as guest performers Travis Scott and Big Boi—for choosing to participate in the event in light of the Colin Kaepernick controversy. The former 49ers QB has filed a collusion grievance against the league, claiming he was blacklisted over his on-field protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Following the backlash, Maroon 5 and Scott announced they would make hefty donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and social justice accelerator Dream Corps., respectively. It's likely the participating artists will continue to catch heat in the days leading up to and following the big game; this is why some suspect the presser cancelation was just a way for Maroon 5 to dodge uncomfortable questions about Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yeah, seems like few people are buying the NFL's statement.
Super Bowl LIII will go down Sunday at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.