Rihanna continues to show she’s a queen both on and off the stage, with a source claiming to US Weekly that the popstar declined an offer to perform at the Superbowl Halftime show—inarguably one the biggest and most-watched musical performances of the year—out of disagreement with the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick and to stand in solidarity with the activist and athlete. “The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” the source stated, “but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”
Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem in peaceful protest against racially-driven police brutality set off a string of controversies within not only the NFL but most of America, a string of events that ended with Kaepernick being unjustly condemned for his actions, no coach having played the athlete since he began his protests in the 2016 season. The right people seem to have been watching, though, with Nike signing him to one of their most successful campaigns back in September, and now with Rihanna—who Kaepernick reportedly has a huge crush on—declining a massive career opportunity to show her support.
Not only is this not the first time Rihanna has been outspoken about her values, it isn’t even the first time she’s took a stand for these values against the NFL. Back in 2014, the league cut then-“Thursday Night Football” theme “Run This Town” from the week of Ray Rice’s return from suspension, as the company wanted to avoid any association between Rice, suspended for the leak of a video of him beating his wife unconscious, and Rihanna, herself a victim of domestic abuse. Not the quiet type, Rihanna rightly called them out on it:
CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, Fuck you! Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) September 16, 2014
Following Rihanna’s rebuff back in September, the NFL instead pursued a more reliably plain and apolitical alternative in Maroon 5, who are now locked in for the February 3rd performance – though swirling rumours of a Cardi B cameo suggest that Adam Levine & Co. might be able to approach at least some of that sadly-missed Rihanna energy.