Eminem delivered a statement by kneeling during the Super Bowl LVI halftime performance on Sunday, despite allegations earlier in the day that the NFL would not allow him to do so.
After singing with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige, the “Lose Yourself” singer kneeled at the end of the event. Earlier in the day, it was reported that the rapper would be prohibited from kneeling “Colin Kaepernick-style,” and that Dr. Dre would be prohibited from repeating his phrase “still not lovin’ the police” when performing his song “Still Dre.”
On Sunday, NFL representatives informed the New York Post that players have been taking knees since 2016 without sanctions, so musical talent wouldn’t be held to a different standard” for the halftime show.
Despite the phrasing in the statement about “sanctions,” the NFL first prohibited players and club staff from sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, a policy that was accepted by all NFL team owners, save San Francisco 49ers owner, Jed York, back in 2018. Players who wanted to protest may do so in the locker room, according to the protocol.
“On-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell remarked at the time. This policy, approved by then-President Donald Trump, also contained the possibility of fining anybody who disregarded it.
Back in August 2016, Kaepernick began kneeling to protest against the racial injustice and police brutality against Black people, sparking a civil rights movement and inspiring sportsmen from various sports to follow in his footsteps. Prior to kneeling, the former NFL quarterback sat during the national anthem in protest.
The NFL admitted it was wrong for its treatment of players and employees after Black Lives Matter rallies started in 2020, following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time, without mentioning Kaepernick’s name. “We, the NFL, believe Black lives matter.”
The NFL has been chastised on several occasions for its treatment of Black athletes and, more recently, for its discriminatory hiring practices.