The National Football League (NFL) has denied telling rapper Eminem not to take the knee during the Super Bowl LVI half-time show half time show on Sunday.
The rapper, 49, made the gesture despite official NFL rules effectively banning players from taking the knee during the anthem.
The rules state ‘all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem’ with players that refuse to stand asked to ‘stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.’
Eminem made the gesture, which has become a symbol of protest against racism, after he finished his performance of his hit song Lose Yourself.
In what would appear to be his moment to bow, Eminem – real name Marshall Mathers – dropped to the ground on one knee, with his head hanging solemnly.
He maintained the position for approximately 50 seconds as the performers transitioned into Snoop Dogg’s set.
Eminem did so even though no players from the Rams or Bengals knelt during the National Anthem at the start of the game – and there was no sign of any other kneeling from the audience either.
It is unclear if taking the knee was a planned part of the show or a spontaneous decision as Eminem’s publicist did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Eminem (left) took a knee during the Super LVI Halftime Show after the NFL had rejected his request to do it during the performance. The 49-year-old rapper did it anyway out of defiance on the league’s stance on the issue
Fans of the rapper were shocked after seeing their idol take the knee. Not many fans or players at the SoFi Stadium did the same gesture when the national anthem was played prior to the game’s kick-off
NFL rules were changed in 2018 to request all players stand for the national anthem or otherwise stay in the locker room while the anthem is played.
It said this rule changes was implemented because, according to the NFL, ‘on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic’.
At the time, a statement by the league’s 32 teams said that ‘this is not and was never the case’ and vowed to support players who chose to protest.
The policy sparked a backlash from the NFL’s players association which argued that ‘everyone loses when voices get stifled’ and the league later said it would not discipline players who protested despite the rules.
Taking the knee started as a gesture against racism in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem before games.
Kaepernick initially sat on the bench during the anthem but later knelt on the field in a protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the US.
Despite earlier reports the NFL attempted to stop Eminem from making the gesture, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said: ‘We watched all elements of the show during multiple rehearsals this week and were aware that Eminem was going to do that’.
Enimen’s decision to make the gesture during Sunday’s superbowl was met with praise on social media, with several users referring to the rapper as a ‘GOAT’, meaning greatest of all time.
Another wrote: ‘Eminem’s respect for his peers and those before him is and has always been beautiful.’
Although players on both the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams remained standing during country star Mickey Guyton’s 1 minute 51 second performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, Eminem’s act of defiance should not be surprising.
The rapper has spoken out against racial injustice on numerous occasions, despite allegations that some of his lyrics are racist.
Prior to kick-off, all eyes were on both of the teams’ players, to observe whether they would take the knee – a popular symbolical gesture against racism
All of the Los Angeles Rams’ players stood during the national anthem before the NFL Super Bowl LVI game against the Cincinnati Bengals
The national anthem is sung before the NFL Super Bowl LVI football game, where the Rams players could be seen standing behind the American flag
In 2017, Eminem released a song, called Untouchable, referring to white men as ‘untouchable’ because they seem to be unbothered by the police brutality and suppression of human rights that black men and women face in the USA every day.
Eminem discusses everything from institutional racism to the Black Lives Matter movement in the song.
‘Black boy, black boy, we ain’t gonna lie to you / Black boy, black boy, we don’t like the sight of you,’ he raps at the early beginning of the song, adding later that ‘Throughout history, African-Americans have been treated like s**t / and I admit there have been times where it’s been embarrassing to be a white boy.’
In 2020, the rapper and Kid Cudi teamed up for their first collaboration, and it’s full of timely commentary on racial inequality and access to public health.
At the time, the duo released a lyric video for ‘The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady,’ which slammed ‘dirty’ cops, NFL player Drew Brees and people who refuse to wear a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Bunch of half wits up in office / Half of us walkin’ around like a zombie apocalypse,’ Eminem raps on the track. ‘Other half are just pissed off / And don’t wanna wear a mask / And they’re just scoffin’ / And that’s how you end up catchin’ the [stuff] off ’em / I just used the same basket as you shoppin’ / Now I’m in a… casket from you coffin’.’
The four-and-a-half minute song goes on to reference George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, whose killings have spurred worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.
It was also aimed at New Orleans Saints quarterback Brees, who drew sharp criticism in June after doubling down on his disapproval of Colin Kaepernick and others who have kneeled during the national anthem. Brees later apologized for his ‘insensitive’ comments that ‘lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.’
‘And God’s my jury, so when I die / I’m not worried / Prayers to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery,’ Eminem continues. ‘How … is it that so many cops are dirty? / Stop man, please / Officer, I’m sorry / But I can’t breathe / When I got you on top of me / Your … knee’s on my carotid artery.’