The NFL Denies Telling Eminem Not To Kneel During The Super Bowl Halftime Show

Last night’s Super Bowl halftime show drew its fair share of both praise and controversy, as West Coast hip-hop legend Dr. Dre took to the field with a cadre of superstar associates including 50 Cent, Anderson .Paak, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Snoop Dogg. While some conservative pundits offered the probably disingenuous criticism of the show as depicting “sexual anarchy,” another lightning rod during the performance was Eminem taking a knee in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and all the other players who protested police brutality during the 2016 season.

Ahead of the performance, it was reported that the NFL had apparently shot down the idea when he pitched it during planning and rehearsals, as well as flagging Dr. Dre’s “still not loving police” lyric from “Still D.R.E.” as possibly “divisive” moments. However, that report didn’t stop either performer from going ahead as planned, although Kendrick Lamar did censor the “we hate po-po” lyric from “Alright.”

A report shortly after the performance in the New York Times suggests new information from a league spokesman who insinuated that all those possibly controversial moments were cleared in rehearsals. Brian McCarthy said league officials “watched it during rehearsals this week” and didn’t mention receiving any notes. He also said that players and coaches were cleared to demonstrate before the game, although it didn’t seem that any of them did.