Eminem took an unexpected knee for roughly one full minute during Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show — a move the NFL says it approved prior to the performance.
Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show was a momentous event for multiple hip-hop artists. But just one artist — Eminem — is drawing most of the attention from the performance for taking a lengthy knee to conclude his portion of the show.
During the Pepsi-sponsored showcase, which featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, and Mary J. Blige, Eminem took a knee for roughly one minute in the middle of the rap medley. The rapper kneeled down in dramatic fashion after his performance of “Lose Yourself,” clutching his head in his hand. The move immediately drew comparisons to Colin Kaepernick, who first drew controversy for taking a knee as a San Francisco 49er back in 2016.
It wasn’t immediately clear where the NFL stood on the matter. Multiple reports noted that the NFL directly requested that Eminem not take a knee during the show. That was never confirmed, however, and the NFL quickly stated that the knee had been tacitly approved.
Shortly after the game, league spokesman Brian McCarthy stated that the NFL was aware that Eminem was planning to kneel based on pre-game rehearsals. Eminem apparently wasn’t orchestrating a surprise, and McCartney confirmed that the NFL was okay with his plans to kneel during the Superbowl. In essence, the league never said no.
McCarthy also noted that players, coaches, and personnel would not be penalized for taking a knee, a reversal of the NFL’s previous ban on the practice.
Roc Nation, which produced the event, has not commented.
Eminem’s move is drawing enormous attention following the game.
Heading into the event, most of the attention was focused on the groundbreaking nature of the legendary hip-hop cast. This was the first Super Bowl Halftime Show to feature a slate of hip-hop artists, and a career highlight for legends like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Typically, the event features safer pop and rock superstars.
While debates over kneeling have calmed considerably, a recent racial discrimination lawsuit from former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores has stirred more racially-charged discussions. Heading into the Super Bowl, President Joe Biden criticized the league for not hiring enough black head coaches.
“Think about it,” Biden told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “The whole idea that a league that is made up of so many athletes of color, as well as so diverse, that there’s not enough African American qualified coaches to quote, ‘to manage,’ these NFL teams, it just seems to me that it’s a standard that they’d want to live up to. It’s not a requirement of law, but it’s a requirement I think of some generic decency.”