While defending his decision to partner with the National Football League, Jay-Z seemed to add more fuel to critics' already rampant fires.
In a press conference on Wednesday (August 14) — ironically the third anniversary of when Colin Kaepernick first knelt during an NFL game — the Roc Nation exec appeared to dismiss players' kneeling protests after being asked if he would kneel or stand for the national anthem.
"I think we've moved past kneeling. I think it's time to go into actionable items," Jay responded. "I don't want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling is a form of protest. I support protests across the board. We need to bring light to the issue and I think everyone knows what the issue is. We're done with that."
"We forget that Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase," he explained. "There [are] two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, 'I hear you. What do we do next?'"
Jay continued, "For me, it's like action, [an] actionable item, what are we gonna do with it? Everyone heard, we hear what you're saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you're saying [in Kaepernick's underlying message]. So what are we gonna do? You know what I'm saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job."
The "Mood 4 Eva" rapper's words didn't sit too well for a lot of people including Kaepernick's girlfriend and television host Nessa Diab, sports journalist Jemele Hill, Kaepernick's former teammate Eric Reid, who continues to kneel during NFL games, to name a few, and even Jay's own fans as many blasted the legendary emcee on social media following the press conference airing on Thursday (August 15).
As previously reported, the rapper/business mogul and his entertainment and sports company Roc Nation announced their multi-tiered partnership with the professional American football leagueon Tuesday (August 13). According to the New York Times, Roc Nation will serve as the football league's "live music entertainment strategist," meaning Roc Nation and Jay-Z will consult on entertainment, including the Super Bowl halftime show, the creation of podcasts, visual albums, other events and concerts. The partnership also includes Jay and Roc Nation having great influence over Inspire Change, the NFL's social justice campaign.
"The N.F.L. has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive," Jay told the NYT. "They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good."
Following news of the partnership, many dubbed the NFL's decision to align with the 49-year-old entertainment power player as a strategic move, given the bad publicity it's faced over the years in regards to the national anthem protests, Kaepernick's collusion case, and NFL boycotts from both sides of the debate. Jay was among many, not only the entertainment industry but also the United States who criticized the league for his handling of NFL players' peaceful protests and its alleged blackballing of Kaepernick.
See celebrities and fans' reactions to Jay's NFL deal below!