The Super Bowl halftime show was all dazzle and old-school nostalgia. But Eminem also gave it a spark of controversy when the rapper took a knee and bowed his head at the finish of his performance.
Collectively, social media immediately reacted to Eminem, saying he took a knee to honor the cause of Colin Kaepernick. Then, it was reported that NFL reps told the rapper not to kneel in the Super Bowl halftime show. It all sounded like the makings of alter-ego Slim Shady coming out of retirement.
But hold up. Early Monday, the NFL said it never told the rapper no. And he’d been practicing said knee during Super Bowl rehearsals.
“That report was erroneous,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told Fox News in regards to the report about his bosses telling Eminem no to kneeling.
“We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals (last) week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that.”
The Los Angeles Rams, with an incredible last drive, beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. Matthew Stafford led the Rams on a monster final march, chewing 5 minutes off the clock. Stafford connected with Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp for the winning touchdown, Joe Burrow’s Bengals had little time to regroup and the game ended with Aaron Donald slinging Burrow to the ground and a pass sailing harmlessly incomplete.
Top Super Bowl Moment — Ending or Eminem at Halftime?
Given all that late-game drama, the Super Bowl halftime threatened to steal all the attention. Fans of a certain age (read, above 40) were thrilled at the choice of entertainment. The stars included Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg opening with “The Next Episode” while perched atop a giant white multi-house structure. The two rappers then performed “California Love.” (No controversy there).
Surprise guest 50 Cent then sang “In Da Club.” He was singing upside down for part of the performance. Mary J Blige, dressed in a sparkly silver leotard and matching thigh high boots, sang Family Affair and No More Drama (as if). Fans wildly applauded Kendrick Lamar. Then it was Eminem time. His choice of songs? Lose Youself.
After Eminem came Dr. Dre as he played the piano and sang parts of TuPac’s “Ain’t Mad at Ya.” That’s when Eminem took a knee.
But the NFL let it be known by game’s end that everyone was aware of Eminem’s plans. The same statement reported by Fox News was sent to media organizations from USA Today to Hollywood Reporter.
Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem in 2016. He did so to bring attention to social justice causes and police brutality. Dozens of other NFL players joined his protest that season. Then it became part of the political culture wars when then President Donald Trump called out Kaepernick during a campaign speech.
Maybe Sunday night’s Super Bowl performance was to be expected. After all, a classic Eminem song features , lyrics: Now this looks like a job for me, so everybody just follow me, cause we need a little controversy. Cause it feels so empty without me.