In 2018, rapper Eminem wrote and performed an anti-Trump, pro-Kaepernick song:
Tonight, in front of 70,000 fans, the woke rapper knelt during his halftime Super Bowl LVI performance as a way to show his disrespect for the flag and to show his support for the woke, unemployed, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
According to The Puck, the NFL denied the request of the anti-American rapper to kneel at any time during his performance.
The NFL reportedly told @Eminem he could not kneel tonight.
— Frank Young (@FY3TV) February 14, 2022
In 2020, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the league’s handling of Kaepernick’s protest, issuing an apology. He said at the time, “I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to.”
UPDATE: According to Epoch Times – The NFL said Monday that its officials were aware that Eminem would take a knee during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show on Sunday.
The 49-year-old rapper performed alongside Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige. Toward the end of his track “Lose Yourself” at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, Eminem took a knee apparently in reference to NFL players kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem, which drew considerable condemnation and created a public relations nightmare for the NFL.
In a statement to ESPN and other outlets, the NFL denied reports that it tried to prevent Eminem from making the gesture.
“We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Eminem mentioned Kaepernick in the lyrics of his 2020 song “Black Magic,” rapping, “I ain’t gon’ stand for that s– / like Kaep for the national anthem.”
Ahead of the halftime show, Eminem said during an interview with SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning on Shade 45 that performing during the big game was “f—ing nerve-wracking.”
“This to me… there’s nothing more final than live TV. So, if you f— up, your f— up is there forever,” he said.
The Puck- In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Dre has gone back and forth with league officials about the lyrics and content of the songs that he could perform on stage. And it goes beyond curse words. A source close to the artist complained that Dre was being “disgustingly censored.” How? The league apparently didn’t want its premier event to turn into a divisive culture war moment. In particular, I’m told, N.F.L. representatives indicated to Dre during rehearsals that they weren’t comfortable with a lyric from his signature 1999 hit, Still D.R.E., which states that he’s “still not loving police.”
Here’s a look at the Super Bowl halftime show:
Bruh!! If someone told me back in the day, they would be crip walking during a Super Bowl halftime show, I would say they were crazy!!! Man, this show felt good!!! #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/bWjM7f92Er
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) February 14, 2022
That line harkens to Dre’s time as leader of N.W.A., when the seminal hip-hop group released the controversial song, Fuck Tha Police. At one point, the NFL told Dre he couldn’t say the line at all, but as of this writing, Dre is optimistic that “police” might make the cut of “accepted” lyrics. Meanwhile, the league nixed a plan by Eminem to kneel, Colin Kaepernick-style. Organizers also flagged something that Snoop Dogg was set to wear as possibly appearing gang-related. (Asked about new limitations placed on halftime performers, a spokesperson for the league did not respond.)
Perhaps brazen, but when you’re running up the score as the NFL has with 75 of the 100 most-watched TV broadcasts this past year, you can get away with a lot, including demanding that music stars are known for speaking their minds (including one whose documentary was titled The Defiant Ones) do nothing controversial. Commissioner Roger Goodell guards the league’s reputation zealously and effectively, so if it feels like the league is constantly teetering on the edge of going too far, there’s probably a reason for that. The stakes are very high, and the playbook for preserving mass appeal is always complicated.
With such unbridled success, it’s little wonder that the NFL can get contumelious when policing halftime at the Super Bowl. That was true a decade ago when the NFL took the singer M.I.A. to arbitration after she stuck up her middle finger during a 2012 halftime performance. (The claim that she tarnished the league’s goodwill and reputation was settled three years later.) It’s still true today and goes beyond telling hip-hop stars what they can and can’t say, do, and wear on stage. The NFL’s leverage is that it knows the power of its own platform, and its well-honed ability to protect itself. If anything goes wrong on Sunday night, Dre will be financially responsible. He agreed in his contract to indemnify the league.