In 2019, Rihanna made headlines for turning down an offer to perform during the Super Bowl Halftime Show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers player who caused a rift in the NFL after he knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
When Rihanna was announced as the halftime show's 2023 headliner, her earlier boycott resurfaced. In a 2019 interview with Vogue, she even said "I just couldn’t be a sellout" in reference to attempting to take the stage. However, an estimated 113.06 million viewers tuned in for the game and her performance this past weekend. So, what changed?
In an eye-opening cover story with Vogue UK, the Fenty Beauty founder not only revealed some lovely photos of her first child, but she also opened up about the thought process behind reversing her boycott of the NFL.
"There’s still a lot of mending to be done in my eyes, but it’s powerful to break those doors and have representation at such a high, high level and a consistent level," she tells the publication. "Two Super Bowls back-to-back, you know, representing the urban community, globally. It is powerful. It sends a really strong message.”
Rihanna is referring to the star-studded 2022 performance which saw the likes of West Coast rap legends Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar join forces with Mary J Blige to perform a medley of their hits.
The "Diamonds" singer saw the proposal to perform as a challenge for herself as she adjusted to postpartum life. "It’s this knowing that you can do anything,” she explains, “even things that seem the craziest, like, ‘I’m going to say yes to the Super Bowl in the middle of postpartum?’ What the heck am I thinking? But you’re geeked on a challenge like that because you know what your body just did. You feel this sense of ‘Nothing is impossible.'" The performance was her first in seven years.
As for Kaepernick, he has remained a free agent since 2017, eventually filing a grievance against the NFL alleging that they were blackballing him after teams refused to sign him. Despite reaching a settlement in 2019, he has remained a free agent and has remained active in the fight against police brutality and racial injustice.
You can revisit Rihanna's 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance here.
Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images