The NFL Resolves the Super Bowl Halftime Show Controversy by Buying Off Jay-Z. Our Long, National Nightmare is Over.

The AtlanticYesterday the hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell held a joint media session at the Roc Nation offices in New York to seal a once-implausible partnership that isn’t being received as positively as both parties probably hoped.

I assume neither Goodell nor Jay-Z expected to be on the defensive once the NFL announced that it would give Roc Nation, the music mogul’s entertainment company, significant power in choosing the performers for the league’s signature events—including the coveted Super Bowl halftime show. Jay-Z and Roc Nation will also help augment the NFL’s social-justice initiatives by developing content and spaces where players can speak about the issues that concern them. …

Jay-Z said yesterday that he spoke to [Colin] Kaepernick on Monday, but he wouldn’t divulge how their conversation went.

A source close to Kaepernick, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, told me, “It was not a good conversation.”

But it was all smiles yesterday between Jay-Z and Goodell.

“We don’t want people to come in and necessarily agree with us; we want people to come in and tell us what we can do better,” Goodell said at the press conference. “I think that’s a core element of our relationship between the two organizations, and with Jay and I personally.”

We should’ve seen this coming. If you’ve been paying even a little attention to how the world works, it should’ve been obvious from the jump that the worst sports story of our times could only end this way. With a gigantic mega-corporation throwing a ton of money at another gigantic mega-corporation to make it go away.

And of course, it should come as no surprise which influential NFL owner had the clout to make this happen:

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Patriots owner Robert Kraft played a key role in the sparking the arrangement.

Kraft, who developed a friendship with Jay-Z through their mutual efforts to secure the release from prison of Meek Mill and to launch earlier this year the Criminal Justice Reform Organization.

And good for Jay-Z. He played Roger Goodell like the 6-foot-3 squishy, wiggly Jello mold that he is. Granted, Jay-Z claimed to be on Colin Kaepernick’s side and was standing up to The Man. And he made it out like Travis Scott had strangled a puppy on live TV for the crime of taking the Super Bowl halftime gig last February. But what good is having principles if you can’t sell them at a huge profit to a feckless, naive, empty-suited dope like Ginger Satan? If you can’t turn your political ideals into money like you’re swapping them at a Cash-for-Gold store, there’s no use in having them. It’s like that line from Tom Haverford in “Parks & Rec” about how women are all against Blood Diamonds until you give them some. Then it’s “I’ll have some more of them Blood Diamonds. And make mine extra bloody.”

For the NFL, sure they just got taken. And probably in a huge way. Roc Nation ran this like a protection racket. “This is a really nice Super Bowl halftime show you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if anything were to happen to it.” But they did what impossibly powerful, influential people do in 2019: They caved. They opened the cash drawer and handed the contents over to the racketeers before they started breaking the merchandise. The thought of another year of Roger Goodell’s Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party being ruined by controversy and having to settle for Maroon 5 was too much to bear. So they threw money at the problem. And now they claim everything is resolved and focus on important things like making sure Dave Portnoy doesn’t get past security.

The fact is, it probably accomplished nothing. If you hate the NFL or the National Anthem or think Kaepernick is being blacklisted, I doubt that a bunch of billionaires giving payouts to another billionaire would convince you all your issues have been resolved. But the league can do that thing they do with every controversy from concussions to domestic violence where they point to the giant cardboard check with the Commissioner’s signature on the bottom and say, “Look at how we’re working to make it all better.”

So the Super Bowl halftime controversy will go away. For now. They’ll have better acts and put on the wokest half hour television event of the year and social justice will reign throughout the land. This was the only possible outcome. And I’m ashamed I didn’t see it coming three years ago.