The NFL and rap mogul Jay-z provided a first glimpse on how their controversial partnership might work on Friday, announcing a free “Inspire Change” concert to be performed before the league’s opening game on Thursday.
Performing at the concert will be Meek Mill, Meghan Trainor and Rapsody, all three of whom have also been named “Inspire Change” advocates.
In addition to the concert, the league and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation naturally revealed some revenue streams for its new social justice initiative. Artists of various genres will reportedly create new music for a Songs of the Season campaign that will debut during games and simultaneously hit streaming platforms. Because this is the NFL, an apparel line also reportedly in the works.
As you can imagine, one of the biggest critics of the league’s partnership wasn’t impressed.
Eric Reid: Not a big Jay-Z fan
Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid had some strong words for Jay-Z and the NFL when the partnership was initially reported. That trend continued Friday.
Reid has been one of the most visible allies of Colin Kaepernick, who has also taken shots at the partnership.
The players are only two of a number of figures who have questioned Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL given his past support of Kaepernick. The rapper once reportedly made efforts to convince Travis Scott to drop out of the Super Bowl because of the stigma around the NFL from Kaepernick’s treatment. Now, he’s fully associating himself with the league as much as any major musician can.
Clearly, Reid is taking a cynical view toward the NFL.
Eric Reid since joining the Carolina Panthers
What is ‘Inspire Change’?
The NFL announced in January that it was launching “Inspire Change,” a product of its work with the Players Coalition that was meant to showcase “the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the league to create positive change in communities across the country.”
The league said it would use its programs to focus on three major areas: education and economic advancement, police and community relations and criminal justice reform.
The revenue from the league’s Songs of the Season and apparel line are earmarked to fund that initiative, which the league says has funded nearly $2 million in social justice grants toward organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Operation HOPE.
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