The NFL will try to put last year’s controversy over the Super Bowl halftime show behind it when the league tests out its partnership with rap superstar Jay-Z on a high-profile stage on Sunday.
Jay-Z has booked Jennifer Lopez and Shakira as this year’s halftime headliners. And while the two are teasing their performance on social media with Instagram videos and photos, they’re not getting nearly the same scrutiny as last year’s artists, who were embroiled in the ongoing debate over the league’s treatment of former star quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The two Latina singers say they want to bring Americans together during a deeply divided time by putting a spotlight on their community.
“It’s very important for us to convey a message of unity and also to show what a relevant force the Latin community is in this country,” Shakira said at a news conference in Miami on Thursday.
“There’s no doubt that the NFL is using some very smart diversity moves,” said Rinaldo Walcott, a professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in black pop culture and politics.
And Jay-Z might be the one to thank — or blame — for helping erase past controversy.
Last year, superstar Rihanna and rapper Cardi B declined offers to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show to demonstrate their support for Kaepernick. The quarterback hasn’t played for the past three seasons after taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality against African Americans.
That stand taken by Rihanna and Cardi B turned the normally coveted halftime gig into a political football. No one wanted to touch it.
Maroon 5 took the spot in what appeared to be a last-minute decision but cancelled the customary news conference in which the headline act usually participates before the big day. The rock band got less than stellar reviews for its performance.
A new deal
Soon after, the NFL announced a new deal: a partnership with Jay-Z’s entertainment conglomerate, Roc Nation.
The decision prompted outcry from many who called the rapper a sellout. His company, which includes a record label, a talent agency and concert promotion, is now advising the league on its entertainment productions. That includes the Super Bowl halftime show, and the decision to put J.Lo and Shakira centre stage when the San Francisco 49ers — Kaepernick’s old team — play the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami on Sunday.
The duo says there will be plenty of “heartfelt moments,” including a tribute to Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend who died in a helicopter crash last Sunday.
NFL adopts the cause Kap was fighting for
Roc Nation is also in charge of promoting the NFL’s philanthropic arm. Its Inspire Change campaign promotes the league’s non-profit work in underserved communities.
The philanthropic outreach seeks to improve areas such as criminal justice reform, education and police-community relations by offering grants to organizations and raising awareness.
This year, the focus of the overall campaign — ironically — is on police shootings and racial inequality: the same issues that compelled Kaepernick to kneel.
“There are some things just bigger than football.” <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/InspireChange?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#InspireChange</a> <a href=”https://t.co/HIW1G15VxX”>pic.twitter.com/HIW1G15VxX</a>
So while Kaepernick remains unsigned and effectively sidelined, Walcott says the NFL is trying to clean up its own image by capitalizing on the causes the quarterback was fighting for.
“I think that [the NFL] has to find a way to bring him back, if any of these moves like Inspire Change is going to have any real credibility, especially among black communities.”
Jay-Z said in August that he had spoken to Kaepernick before announcing his company’s partnership with the NFL, but wouldn’t elaborate on the outcome of the conversation.
“I think we’re past kneeling,” he told reporters at the time. “I think it’s time for action.”
As J.Lo and Shakira prepare for their 12 minutes on stage, they say they’re proud of their participation in the NFL event.
“The Super Bowl is a very American event,” said Shakira, who is managed by Roc Nation. “So it’s also going to be a reminder of the heritage of this country, which is one of diversity. And that’s what we will be celebrating.”
Canadiens @ Oilers: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch – Habs Eyes on the Prize
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet 360 (English), TVAS (French)
The Montreal Canadiens will look to add another win on their Western-Canada-plus-Seattle road trip two nights removed from an exciting 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The game might have been a one-goal contest, but it would’ve been a lot different if goaltender Jake Allen hadn’t stood on his head, making a whopping 45 saves in the victory, his first since November 19.
Tale of the Tape
|45.8% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||50,5% (17th)|
|2,78 (26th)||Goals per game||3,42 (9th)|
|3,39 (22nd)||Goals against per game||3,63 (7th)|
|15,7% (29th)||PP%||27,6% (5th)|
|82,3% (6th)||PK%||71,6% (27th)|
|1-1-0||H2H Record (’21-22)||1-1-0|
On Thursday, it was Montreal’s first overall pick from this summer’s draft, Juraj Slafkovský, who opened the scoring on the first shot of the game at 13 seconds, when Calgary all-star goaltender Jacob Markstrom decided to leave his crease to try to play the puck, which inevitably resulted in a poor miscue by the former Vezina nominee.
Habs standout Cole Caufield, who has been mesmerizing fans and brass alike, scored the eventual game-winner, a power-play marker six-and-a-half minutes into the third period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. The man advantage has been a bit of a soft spot all season, finding itself 29th in the league, and also especially after going zero-for-six earlier in the week against San Jose, it was nice to see it clicking for once.
Thursday’s game was also a homecoming of sorts for Sean Monahan, a former 2013 first-round pick of the Calgary Flames. His return was met with a lot of chants and cheers, as opposed to Kirby Dach’s return to Chicago a week prior. Monahan, who currently sits fourth in team scoring with five goals and 16 points, assisted on both Montreal goals.
Tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt in their last game Thursday night, a 5-3 loss to Kirill ‘The Thrill’ Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild squad. The Oilers’ one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and a helper in the contest, but it didn’t help their cause.
McDavid and Draisaitl have been two of the best players in the game in recent years, and yet again find themselves on pace for record-setting seasons, sitting number one and three in the NHL scoring race, respectively. McDavid’s 19 goals and 43 points through his first 24 games make his numbers last season (44 goals and 79 assists) look like a poor performance for the perennial all-star.
His German counterpart currently has 16 goals and 38 points, making his career-best totals of 55 goals and 110 points also seem well within reach, which makes these two some of the best teammates at the top of the leaderboard since the late-90s when the Pittsburgh Penguins had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr taking the league down in a fury.
Both Edmonton goaltenders, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, have shared an equal workload with Mike Smith on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. Campbell, who signed an off-season deal with the Oilers at five years and-$25 million, has put up seven wins, but a league-worst 4.12 goals-against-average.
Last season saw these two squads split the season series, with each road team getting a victory. Edmonton took the first contest, a 7-2 dismantling at the Bell Centre on January 29, and then Montreal exacted revenge on March 5, with a 5-2 victory at Rogers Place.
One bright spot for Habs last year was that of all nine of Edmonton’s goal-scorers versus Montreal, none wore the number 97. McDavid registered zero points across both contests. Just a little optimism that it can repeat itself Saturday in Alberta.
NHL Buzz: Manson out week to week for Avalanche – NHL.com
Welcome to the NHL Buzz. The 2022-23 regular season is underway, and NHL.com has you covered with all the latest news.
Josh Manson is out week to week for the Avalanche because of a lower-body injury.
The defenseman, who sustained the injury in a 6-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, has six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games this season.
Andreas Englund was recalled from Colorado of the American Hockey League. He has one assist in four games with the Avalanche this season.
“Englund has played good when he’s been up with us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I really like what he did when he was up. … Just another big (6-foot-3, 189 pounds), heavy, strong guy that’s been an efficient puck mover for us on the back end.”
Teuvo Teravainen could return for the Hurricanes on Saturday one day after the forward was activated off injured reserve.
Teravainen, who has missed the past 10 games with an upper-body injury, has seven assists in 14 games this season.
Carolina plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Cam Atkinson said he’s getting closer to making his season debut, but the forward remains day to day because of an upper-body injury.
Atkinson added he’s been fully cleared for contact and is not restricted in any way.
“It’s obviously good to be back with everyone and take a little bit of licks and see how I do,” Atkinson said. “Just day to day for me right now.
“It’s been pretty good. A little bit of an adjustment but just working out the kinks. I’m getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now. But I’m closer than not.”
Atkinson was second on the Flyers in goals (23) and points (50) last season. Entering Saturday, Philadelphia was last in the NHL in goals per game (2.38).
Atkinson said the nature of his injury has allowed him to skate and stay in shape that way but that it might take a game or two for him to get his timing with the puck back to normal.
“If I was playing and if we had a day off, even one day off, even if I played 30 games and I took a day off, I still feel like that next practice my timing is just a little bit off,” he said. “Maybe it’s more mental than not. So obviously not playing any games it’s going to take a game or two to get adjusted, but we’re on a pretty good schedule for me right now. I’ve revved it up a lot and I’m feeling good. I feel like my timing is pretty solid, but you really won’t know until you play a game.” — Adam Kimelman
World Cup Daily: Timeless Messi is on a mission for Argentina – Sportsnet.ca
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