The PR roller coaster that is Colin Kaepernick just won’t die. Even as the NFL seems to have left the quarterback out of this season for his outspoken views, others are taking the baton and running with it. Some, too, are making a public stand in favor of Kaepernick and his protest. Most recently, rapper and mogul Jay-Z stopped his first headlining New York show in several years to pay tribute to the embattled (possibly former) quarterback. Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z was well into his 90-minute set at Citi Field in Queens when he stopped to offer this:
Dedication to Kaepernick
“I want to dedicate this (next) song to Colin Kaepernick… And I want to dedicate this to Dick Gregory … and anyone that was held back and you overcame…” before launching into The Story of OJ, which riffs on the connection between being black and managing money.
That was hardly Jay-Z’s only political statement during the show, but it is the one that is currently the most topical and likely to get the most negative feedback.
NFL fans are deeply divided over what to do and think about Kaepernick. Some are glad he’s out of football and wish he would go away from the public square. Others, like Jay-Z, want more people to step up and join in the protests, to stand together with Kaepernick. Many, many more just want it all to stop. They want players to play football so fans can have a few hours’ break from the turmoil and the division each weekend.
A Tribute to Chester Bennington
And, though it may not make as many headlines, Jay-Z also offered a template in how to get there. During his concert, he crossed over into the rock genre to pay tribute to former Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who committed suicide back in July.
“If you know this song, I want you to sing it so loud he can hear you in heaven…” Jay-Z said, before launching into Numb/Encore.
While the Kaepernick tribute may have split the audience, the tribute to Bennington brought them together. Many who grew up bumping Jay-Z, also blasted Linkin Park, and the audience was more than willing to rock with the rapper. Politics was gone, engulfed in a truly human moment. Without having to be told, every member of the audience was reminded what brings us together.
The NFL would do well to find a way to stop the Kaepernick spin cycle and just remind its fans what brought them all together. Love for the game and their team. If they can get that back, the Kaepernick story that continues to create a PR problem for the league may finally become an afterthought.
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