Super Bowl LII has come and gone, but some critics are saying the NFL missed a valuable chance to use the Super Bowl as a way to try to mend fences with the Black fans it lost since supporters say Colin Kaepernick was blackballed by the league.
Instead, for some, the league showed it wasn’t really concerned with any of the fallout over the quarterback’s quest for social justice that perhaps cost him his future with the NFL.
From the commercials to the controversial halftime performance, and much more, here are some ways social media users say Super Bowl LII failed Black folks.
- MLK Dodge commercial
For many critics, whoever signed off on creating a car commercial featuring a voiceover from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – during Black History Month, no less – was the biggest violator.
Twitter users lit into Dodge Ram Trucks for the commercial, with many saying the company could have used some diversity in the decision-making process that brought that commercial to fruition. But to learn that certain members of King’s family were partly responsible was the lemon squeezed into the open wound that was the commercial.
- Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance
The halftime performance of Timberlake drew mixed reviews, but more people took issue with the fact that the NFL chose him of all people to perform. One of the complaints was that Timberlake skated scot-free while Janet Jackson’s career suffered after his stunt ripping away her bra during the Super Bowl in 2004.
Critics also took issue with the hologram of Prince during Timberlake’s performance. Prince made it very clear in his lifetime that he didn’t want to use his image for commercial purposes, let alone as a prop alongside a singer with whom he had a feud. In the NFL’s world, ratings are king. But in Prince’s hometown, of all places, many critics of the show felt the measure of chill should have been exercised by someone in Prince’s camp who clearly okayed the move that rankled many of the legendary singer’s fans.
- No one kneeled for the national anthem
After a season with an increasing number of players participating in Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest advocating for social justice for Black people, there wasn’t one single report of a player on either Super Bowl team taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem. The lack of action probably thrilled NFL executives, who have been looking to sweep the controversy under the rug.
Considering the above, and considering the timing of the game, the concept of the big game being played during Black History Month was conspicuously missing from any commentary before, during and after the game. In a professional sports league where 70 percent of the players are Black, and with the current racial climate in the country, many felt it was the least the NFL could do.