Maroon 5, Travis Scott to perform at halftime amidst controversy


The National Football League (NFL) confirmed on Sunday, Jan. 13 that Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi would be performing at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show hosted in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The announcement came a few months later than past halftime show lineup announcements.

Controversy surrounds the upcoming halftime show with reports of artists refusing to perform out of solidarity for ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who frequently refused to stand while the national anthem was performed. Kaepernick started his protests at a game in August of 2016 and explained that he did not want to stand for the anthem when racial inequality and police brutality remained prevalent across the country. Other players replicated this protest, and over the next year, it became a widespread movement in the NFL. Kaepernick was eventually released from the 49ers, and the NFL issued a new policy to fine teams whose players kneeled during the anthem. After no other NFL team granted him a roster spot, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, with hearings planned to start this year.

Some artists who declined the Super Bowl gig criticized the NFL’s handling of Kaepernick’s and other players’ protests. Singer Rihanna was the first to decline, according to  US Weekly, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy,” the source reporting to US Weekly said. “She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.” Rapper Cardi B also refused, saying she wouldn’t perform until Kaepernick returned to the NFL. According to a later article from US Weekly, Maroon 5, who will be headlining the show, struggled to find supporting acts due to many artists not wanting to associate themselves with the NFL.

Variety reported that Travis Scott had a phone conversation with Kaepernick about performing, and although Kaepernick didn’t support it, they had “mutual respect and understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend Nessa Dias disputed this report on her Twitter, however. “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against [Kaepernick] PERIOD. #stoplying,” she tweeted. Kaepernick retweeted that and several other tweets that paralleled the same sentiment, leading many to believe there was no consensus between Kaepernick and Scott.

Scott said he confirmed his performance with the NFL only after they agreed to donate to Dream Corps, a non-profit social justice organization. The agreement is comparable to the one the NFL made with several players to donate $89 million to social justice causes over the following seven years when the organization formed their national anthem policy.

Variety also reported in December that Jay Z, who refused to perform at the halftime show for similar reasons as Rihanna and Cardi B, was trying to talk Scott out of performing.

Several fans of the artists set to perform have expressed disapproval with their decision, including an online petition calling for Maroon 5 to step down.