JAY-Z addressed the controversy surrounding the Roc Nation x NFL partnership during a press conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday.
"I think that we forget that Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice," JAY said when asked about Colin Kaepernick, who previously protested against police brutality and similarly important issues. "In that case, this is a success. This is the next thing because there’s two parts of the protest."
Those two parts, according to JAY, are the act of protest itself and the company or individual's response. The NFL partnership, he said, is part of that second step. "Everyone heard and we hear what you're saying and everybody knows I agree with what you're saying, so what are we gonna do?" he said, explaining his stance that "we've moved past kneeling," though he's supportive of ongoing protests "across the board."
Both JAY and Goodell also said Wednesday that they have spoken with Kaepernick, though they didn't detail the nature of those conversations. Asked if Kaepernick would become involved with this new partnership, JAY chose not to speak on his behalf.
"You'll have to ask him," JAY said. "I'm not his boss. I can't just bring him into something. That's for him to say." JAY also praised Kaepernick's post-NFL activism work, noting he considers it an "action item" not unlike his own.
"That's his version of an action item, this is our version of an action item," he said. "We all do different things. We all work differently for the same results. I don't knock what he's doing, and hopefully he doesn't knock what I'm doing."
Kaepernick's girlfriend, Nessa Diab, tweeted that he did not in fact speak to JAY or the NFL when the deal was being done.
When initially announcing the partnership Tuesday, JAY characterized it as "an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America."
The soda pushers over at Pepsi also released a statement.
"As a proud partner of the National Football League for more than 17 years and partner of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, we are excited to collaborate with Roc Nation, Jay-Z, and the NFL to deliver unforgettable music and entertainment experiences celebrating top talent in the musical industry and most importantly, the fans," a Pepsi spokesperson said.
The broader debate surrounding this partnership, meanwhile, is likely to continue.
Eric Reid, who has been very vocal since the deal was first announced, took to Twitter to comment on the press conference. "These aren’t mutually exclusive," Reid wrote, addressing JAY-Z's defense of the deal. "They can both happen at the same time! It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career."
These aren’t mutually exclusive. They can both happen at the same time! It looks like your goal was to make millions and millions of dollars by assisting the NFL in burying Colin’s career. https://t.co/LFBZpbj2tw— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 15, 2019