Rihanna to perform at Super Bowl after previously declining over kneeling controversy

Rihanna will perform the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in February after reportedly turning down an offer four years ago in support of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests during the national anthem.

The National Football League (NFL) announced her appearance on Sunday after the pop star teased the performance on her social media channels, posting a photo of an NFL-branded football.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rihanna to the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show stage,” Seth Dudowsky, NFL’s head of music, said in a statement. “Rihanna is a once in a generation artist who has been a cultural force throughout her career.”

Rihanna in 2018 reportedly rejected an offer to headline the halftime show in support of Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who gained national attention for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and social injustice.

The former quarterback was frequently targeted by former President Trump, who called for Kaepernick and others to be fired.

Kaepernick has not made an NFL roster since 2016 and has previously accused league owners of colluding to keep him out of playing due to his activism. Kaepernick reached an undisclosed settlement with the NFL in 2019 to resolve the grievance. 

The NFL on Sunday said in a release that Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, will serve as executive producer of the halftime show alongside Jesse Collins. 

Collins and Roc Nation both served as executive producers for last season’s Super Bowl halftime show, which featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar as performers.

“Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”

The NFL said the show marks the first year Apple Music, the league and Roc Nation have collaborated on the halftime show. Pepsi served as the show’s sponsor for years.

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