Last Updated on February 17, 2022
Rapper Eminem knelt during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show despite alleged objections from NFL officials. According to a report from PuckNews, which published some behind-the-scenes details about the halftime show, Eminem wanted to take a knee in support of Colin Kaepernick and informed the NFL of his plans, but the league asked him not to. He did it anyway, however, while the league has denied making any objections. The Detroit-based rapper performed at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige.
According to the report, Dr. Dre went back and forth with league officials about the lyrics and content of the songs that he could perform onstage. The league reportedly did not want Dre, Eminem and other artists to focus on divisive culture war issues after a rebound in ratings over the past season. NFL ratings had been declining for years before jumping 17% in the 2021/2022 season.
PuckNews also reported that the league attempted to throw cold water on Eminem’s plans to kneel in support of Colin Kaepernick. The rapper and longtime left-wing activist ignored alleged NFL objections, however, and knelt during the performance.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 14, 2022
The league also reportedly took issue with some of Dr. Dre’s anti-police lyrics. Dre first gained widespread recognition for his work with the rap group NWA, whose main hit was “***k The Police.” PuckNews claimed league officials wanted to remove “still not loving police” lyrics from Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Still Dre”, which was released in 1999. Like Eminem’s kneeling, Dre’s lyrics ultimately made the final cut and were performed live.
The NFL denied the PuckNews report in a statement to the New York Post. A league representative told The Post that players have been taking knees since 2016 without sanctions, so musical talent wouldn’t be held to a different standard.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, the NFL committed over $100 million in order to “promote social justice change.” Between both “national and local projects”, the league set aside $89 million over a seven-year period while NFL owners kicked in the rest. The league highlighted “nonprofit organizations focused on law enforcement and community relations, criminal justice reform and education reform” as intended recipients.