Once aiming for billing as “America’s League,” the National Football League has come under fire in recent months after its response to player protests against police violence against minorities failed to live up to public expectations. While the controversial protests — players kneeling during the National Anthem before games — has spurred a ton of online discussion, many feel the NFL has done little to support its players, instead opting for workarounds and half solutions that avoid addressing the reason behind the protests themselves. Hip-hop group Run The Jewels and outspoken co-founder El-P are among those, going so far as to rebuff a potentially beneficial offer from the NFL to play their single “Legend Has It” during the Super Bowl.
“NFL been trash,” explained El-P, mincing no words as he detailed the story on Twitter. “they asked for the rights to play legend has it in the stadium during the superbowl. we said no because f*ck them. they operate like they’re an indispensable public utility. they aren’t. they are gone with the flip of a channel. fuuuuuuck you.”
He went on to explain that on top of sort of missing the point of “Legend Has It” in the first place, the League was also pretty cheap about it. “and just in case anyone is wondering how much the nfl wanted to pay us for using legend has it, that would be zero dollars and the strong suggestion that we take them up on the opportunity to enrich a private, racist and for profit company masquerading as a non profit. blow me.”
As artists become more and more politically involved from Jay-Z to T.I. to Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels’ turning down the offer — free or not — represents the benefits of putting integrity over opportunity. No doubt having their song played during the Super Bowl would expose them to one of the largest viewing audiences in the world, but clearly, El-P and Killer Mike prioritized their beliefs over commerce. It’s a strategy that’s backfired on them in the past, but considering the NFL’s rapidly falling popularity, this is one decision they’re unlikely to regret.