Before yesterday's Super Bowl, rumors began to circulate on the Internet that the NFL was trying to evict halftime headliner Dr. Censoring Dre and pressuring him to repeat the "still don't love the police" line. of his hit Still D.R.E. from 1999 not to be used.
The same report claims that the NFL also told rapper Eminem not to kneel during the performance, as doing so will divide the audience and serve as an immediate reminder of the NFL's utter failure to handle the Colin Kaepernick situation. But Dre, who poured about $7 million of his own money into the halftime show, wasn't told what not to say, and Eminem took a knee like it was time right after his performance of Lose Yourself.
After the halftime show, the NFL denied trying to limit the performances in any way, but the report sounded too marked, which is exactly what the NFL would want cast members to do.
"We saw all the elements of the show at various rehearsals this week and we knew Eminem was going to do it," an NFL spokesman said afterward.
But being aware that someone is going to do something and asking them not to do it are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible that the league was trying to whitewash the performance and Dr. Dre and Eminem told them exactly where to put that idea. Does anyone doubt that there are forces within the NFL that would be absolutely "concerned" about upsetting conservative white fans? The whole report sounds a bit too aggressive to be anything more than a rumour.
And yes, the "fans" were upset. Or at least falsified enough to think that they could take political advantage of the moment:
In the end, it doesn't matter if the NFL was trying to stop Eminem from taking a knee, or if it was a tribute to Colin Kaepernick, or something else. It meant something to fans, many of whom have waited years for the NFL to acknowledge how poorly it handled Kaepernick's protest — which, by the way, couldn't have been less intrusive or more respectful — only to elicit a few mealy murmurs from the commissioner. Roger Goodell. , who could only say, "I wish we had heard it sooner" in August 2020, more than three years after Kaepernick was banned from the NFL. Oh, and he still doesn't have a job.
The NFL's runoff with the race remains poor, as evidenced by the recently filed class action lawsuit by former head coach Brian Flores accusing the league of discriminating against black candidates in hiring. Unsurprisingly, just putting "End Racism" in the end zones didn't help much and everyone knows it.
In a league where black men make up 70 percent of the athletes on the field, the (almost exclusively white) owners have resisted any kind of real change, instead finding ways to circumvent the once-celebrated Rooney Rule of the league, which is still considered little more than a shadow of the release planner it should be.
Regardless of what Eminem intended with his knee, he had to be aware that at halftime of the NFL Crown Jewels event, fans had to interpret it as exactly one thing: a nod to Kaepernick and everything he had given up in relation to the knee. position. (no pun intended) and a giant middle finger for the NFL.
And on Super Bowl Sunday. How gorgeous.
Now that The Big Game is in the rearview mirror, let's get back to normal. The teams begin to prepare for the draft. The vast majority of NFL coverage will return to Xs and Os. The League will get a break from pretending to care in any way about racial equality. Roger Goodell will once again show false regrets about the lack of black coaches. After all, the league already threw its audience a bone with a hip-hop halftime show. What else do you want?
But for a brief moment, the halftime show felt like an honest rebuttal to everything the NFL stands for, which is a lot of rich white guys these days who refuse to let anyone into their club in any meaningful way. And it was a great moment for anyone who wants to see a true racial revolution in America's favorite game.