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Why Rihanna rejected Super Bowl halftime invite

Singer Rihanna turned down an offer to headline the Super Bowl halftime show because she disagrees with the way the NFL has handled Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest, according to Us Magazine.

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 9:55 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 10:16 PM

The Super Bowl halftime show was originally seen as a clever way to capitalize upon the world's biggest TV stage. For the NFL, it offered the chance to retain more of the game's audience during the extended break, and maybe increase tune-in among younger viewers. For artists, it was a massive promotional opportunity. Win-win.

Now, however, the halftime follies have become something of a hot potato -- riven by political polarization, past controversies and newer ones, including the league's stance toward quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the National Anthem has effectively ended -- at least for now -- his gridiron career.

In that respect, playing at the Super Bowl could join performing comedy at the White House Correspondents Dinner as a "thanks, but no thanks" proposition for many artists -- something that was once a lighthearted showcase, which has been complicated by politics to the point where it's not worth the headaches and risk.

Efforts to be edgy during Super Bowl performances -- a tradition that was introduced in 1991 -- were revealed to be perilous in 2004, when Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" triggered outrage and complaints to the Federal Communications Commission. In 2016, Beyoncé stirred a strong response with the racial-justice aspects of her "Formation" debut.

Since then, Beyoncé's husband, Jay-Z, reportedly passed on the opportunity to perform, later rapping in a video, "I said no to the Super Bowl: you need me, I don't need you."

Now, reports have surfaced that Rihanna has also balked at the 2019 Super Bowl, according to Us Weekly and "Entertainment Tonight," because the singer "stands with the players and Colin Kaepernick." That follows earlier reports that Maroon 5 was going to perform, which produced a separate backlash over not choosing an act with ties to host city Atlanta.

In truth, dispensing with the halftime show as a musical attraction wouldn't be much of a loss, despite the annual speculation devoted to who'll be chosen and what they'll do. As Adele noted in 2015 -- telling a crowd that she had passed on the chance to perform -- "I mean, come on, that show is not about music."

Criticism, obviously, isn't confined to politics, but attempts to be "safe" -- and avoid those landmines -- can lead to separate issues. This year, for example, Justin Timberlake's pop-tinged set drew criticism for weaving in a tribute to the late star Prince, while the Los Angeles Times panned his performance for lacking soul and having "no message."

The NFL has been nothing if not shrewd in the past about turning the Super Bowl into not only a showcase for its product, but a flag-waving, patriotic affair whose appeal went well beyond the pricey advertising. And the halftime show has produced plenty of memorable performances.

Still, the drama that now seems to inevitably go hand in hand with finding a musical act has become as much a distraction as anything else. And given the league's fumbling response to the Kaepernick situation, the question of artists debating whether they "need" the Super Bowl doesn't figure to go away anytime soon.

The Super Bowl has come to represent a lot of things, but stripped to its core, it's effectively a national holiday celebrating two American traditions that have gone hand in hand since the mid-20th century, pro football and watching television.

The league wouldn't be sacrificing a lot if it got back to that, and turned down some of the other noise.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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