Maroon 5 is still scheduled to perform the Super Bowl halftime show despite a growing flurry of discussion about the group’s decision to participate given the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. But getting the group to talk about the performance before they’re on stage on Sunday doesn’t seem likely.
The NFL abruptly cancelled the band’s pre-Super Bowl press conference on Tuesday night. With media already in Atlanta to cover the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams’ own media day on Monday, anyone hoping to ask Adam Levine a question about systemic police brutality against people of color will be out of luck.
The NFL said in a statement that “the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday.” The league also said it will use its own media platforms to help give fans an inside look into the performance. But the decision to cancel the press conference is almost certainly because of Kaepernick and a number of prominent voices in the music community, as Maroon 5 has seen growing criticism for their decision to perform at the halftime show. The band reportedly had a hard time finding people to join them during the event, as some cited Colin Kaepernick’s treatment by the league and owners as a big reason they passed. Many believe that Kaepernick has been blackballed by the league for his decision to protest police brutality against people of color.
Travis Scott saw public criticism when it was announced that he would perform with the group at the NFL’s biggest event, and the reaction from fans and music press has been far from positive. On Tuesday, it was announced that all those parties involved would be donating money to charity in response to the criticism, which has done little to change anyone’s mind about the decision to perform in the first place.
And just to be clear, these pre-Super Bowl press conferences are pretty standard. And actually serve to, you know, publicize the Super Bowl and the halftime show itself. The NFL’s own website has all 22-plus minutes of Justin Timberlake’s press conference available on its website. These are usually a pretty big deal, or at the very least a perfunctory part of the hype that is Super Bowl week. Which is why no one was buying the NFL’s excuse for cancelling the press conference in the first place.
It is worth noting, however, how different the response has been from the music world to Kaepernick’s treatment than the sports world. Many in the sports media and beyond have spoken out about the Kaepernick situation, but little has actually changed to his employment situation and the NFL’s utter avoidance of any sort of protesting, whether on or off the field. The music industry and artists as a whole, however, have signaled much swifter change with their outcry about the halftime show. Canceling a press conference is a small moment in a much larger picture, but it shows that the league is genuinely worried about making the situation worse by fielding questions about the halftime show.
The only positive press Maroon 5’s halftime show has received recently seems to be that they might actually perform at least part of a SpongeBob SquarePants song during the show, so perhaps the NFL is right in canceling here. But few people believe this is a good sign for how things will be received on Sunday.