The National Football League is receiving a mixed bag of criticism and praise for public service announcements featuring victims of police violence. One of the video spots will air during Sunday’s Super Bowl as part of a partnership between the NFL and rapper Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company. The controversial PSA focuses on the death of Botham Jean, an unarmed black man who was shot to death in his apartment by a Dallas police officer.

Virginia Tech’s Nneka Logan, who specializes in corporate communication, race, and diversity, says it is important to pay attention to this because the partnership suggests an innovative direction for corporate social responsibility, one that positions corporations as powerful advocates for social justice issues.   

“The public’s reaction will serve as an indicator of how society perceives corporate involvement in social justice issues,” said Logan. “What is certain is that this partnership suggests that traditional notions of corporate social responsibility may be changing along with the role of business in society.”

“The NFL - Roc Nation partnership is being criticized from multiple angles. Members of the hip hop community and others concerned with issues of social justice criticize the partnership because they believe Jay-Z and Roc Nation’s involvement with the NFL functions as an endorsement of the NFL as an organization, ignores its treatment of Colin Kaepernick, and will not lead to substantive change on social justice issues.”

“Supporters, however, argue that the partnership is an example of the NFL’s willingness to listen to diverse constituencies, particularly those aggrieved by the kind of police violence Kaepernick was protesting,” she said.

Supporters maintain the PSAs are important because they amplify the voices of victims and their families while empowering them to tell their own stories.

Logan also acknowledged many will simply wish the league would just focus on football and leave the social justice issues alone.

About Nneka Logan

Logan’s expertise is focused in public relations, organizational communication, corporate discourse, race, and diversity. She worked in a variety of communication roles for a multibillion-dollar corporate organization and its subsidiaries for more than 9 years, managing internal, external, and executive communication strategies, tactics, programs, and projects.  Read her bio.


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