Will Partnering With Roc Nation Change the NFL for the Better?

Ever since the NFL announced its partnership with Roc Nation, followers of both organizations have criticized the alliance. Founded by rapper and entrepreneur Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Roc Nation is an agency that represents some of the biggest names in sports. However, this NFL partnership intends to promote social change and bring much-needed entertainment to the NFL

Some see this partnership as an act of hypocrisy from Carter, who publically supported Kaepernick and reportedly turned down an offer to perform at last year’s Super Bowl out of respect for the blackballed quarterback. Can this partnership help change the culture of the NFL?

Opponents of the NFL/Roc Nation partnership

The deal reportedly involves Carter joining an NFL ownership group. Some view this as the mogul joining the same people he chastised before. Even Carolina Panthers star Eric Reid sees this as a betrayal of what Carter allegedly stood for in the past. Critics say if Carter wants to fire the powers that be about Kaepernick, he can’t just join the group. After all, Kaepernick is still jobless in the NFL.

Bomani Jones of The Undefeated says Carter’s involvement shows a lack of understanding concerning the implications that could come from him partnering with the NFL. “While Jay’s support for Kaepernick was almost certainly genuine, he is in bed with Kap’s primary enemies, those who fought the hardest to silence him and his message,” Jones wrote. “No matter where Jay started, he’s now got more in common with NFL owners than with NFL players.”

Kevin Blackistone of the Washington Post also weighed in on the situation, using similar language to Jones as he discussed the partnership. “Jay-Z can’t stand up for Kaepernick while tucking himself into bed with the NFL. It is disingenuous,” Blackistone wrote. “It is hypocritical. It is fake.” Many other high-profile reporters, like Jemele Hill and Dave Zirin, took issue with the partnership. But some see it differently. 


Not everyone is opposed to Carter’s partnership with the NFL, however. In fact, it’s not the first time he has been a part of a professional sports league. Despite owning a small stake, the rapper was integral in the Brooklyn rebrand of the Nets. He knows how a pro sports league works from an owner’s point of view, and some believe Carter should get the benefit of the doubt. 

Mike Jones of USA Today is one of these people, stating, “Let’s see what exactly he has planned as he rolls up his sleeves and prepares to position the most powerful sports league to better assist its players’ efforts to positively affect the lives of the underprivileged in their communities and country.”

Notoriously opinionated Stephen A. Smith of ESPN thinks it could be great if Jay-Z can bring about the goals Kaepernick desires. He tweeted, “If Jay-Z decides to … use the strong arm of the NFL to impact communities, disenfranchised communities throughout our nation in a very, very positive way, then excuse me, wasn’t that the goal Colin Kaepernick had?”

So, which is it?

Carter’s partnership with the NFL touches on several hot button topics, and finding answers could take some time. On one hand, it’s a strange look for someone to suddenly join up with those he was against. On the other, it could be the beginning of something that could enact change. Until we see how to all unfolds, we can only speculate.