Who had ‘Eminem sticking to the NFL’ on their bingo card?

Rap debut Eminem takes a knee during the halftime show,

Rap debut Eminem takes a knee during the halftime show,
Picture: Getty Images

Before yesterday’s Super Bowl, the rumors started to swirl online that the NFL attempted to censor halftime headliner Dr. Dre, pressuring him not to use the phrase “still don’t like the police” from his hit of 1999 Still ERD..

The same report claimed that the NFL also told rapper Eminem not to take a knee during the performance, as it would almost certainly divide the audience and immediately serve as a reminder of the NFL’s utter failure in handling the Colin Kaepernick situation. . But Dre, who dumped something like $7 million of his own money into the halftime show, wasn’t going to be told what not to say, and Eminem, just at the right time, took a knee. after his performance You lose.

After the halftime show, the NFL denied trying to limit performances in any way, but the report just sounded too on the mark, exactly the kind of thing the NFL would ask performers.

“We watched every element of the show in multiple rehearsals this week and knew Eminem was going to do it,” said one. NFL spokesperson said afterwards.

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 tried to whitewash the performance and that Dr. Dre and Eminem told them exactly where to stick that idea. Does anyone doubt that there are forces within the NFL that would absolutely have “concerns” about upsetting conservative white fans? The whole report sounds a little too on the nose to be nothing more than a rumour.

And yes, the “fans” were unhappy. Or at least pretend to be upset enough to think they might be making political profit in the moment:

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not the NFL tried 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 had been waiting for years for the NFL to recognize how badly it handled Kaepernick’s protest, which, by the way, couldn’t have been less intrusive or more respectful, only to have a few. mumblings of Commissioner Roger Goodell, who only did managed to say, “I wish we had listened sooner,” in August 2020, more than three years after Kaepernick was kicked out of the NFL. Oh, and he still doesn’t have a job.

The NFL’s reckoning with race continues to go awry, as evidenced by the recent class action lawsuit filed by former head coach Brian Flores, who accuses the league of discriminating against black job applicants. To no one’s surprise, just putting “End Racism” in the end zones didn’t accomplish much, and the whole world knows it.

In a league where black men make up 70 percent of the athletes on the pitch, the owners (almost all white) have resisted any kind of real change, instead finding ways around the league’s famous Rooney rule, which lingers as little more than a shadow of the playing field leveler he was supposed to be.

Whatever Eminem’s intention was in taking a knee, he had to be aware that doing so at halftime of the NFL’s crown jewel event was to be interpreted by fans to mean exactly one thing: a nod to Kaepernick and all he had left behind. to take a stand (no pun intended), and a giant middle finger to the NFL.

And Super Bowl Sunday. How glorious.

Now that The Big Game is in the rearview mirror, we’ll get back to business as usual. Teams will begin preparing for the draft. The vast majority of NFL reporting will come back to the Xs and Os. The league will get a break from pretending it cares about racial equality in any way. Roger Goodell will once again become fake contrite at the lack of black head coaches. After all, the league has already thrown its audience a bone with a hip-hop halftime show. What else do you want?

But for a brief moment, the halftime show seemed like a fair refutation of everything the NFL stands for, which these days is a lot of rich white people who refuse to let anyone into their club. significantly. And it was a big moment for anyone who wants to see a true racial revolution in America’s favorite game.

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