Roger Goodell: Artists 'want to be a part' of Super Bowl despite Kaepernick controversy
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday downplayed concerns about a backlash from the entertainment industry due to the controversy surrounding quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“We have great artists performing all week here," Goodell said at a press conference in Atlanta, host of Sunday's Super Bowl. "We’re extremely pleased with the diversity, the quality and the excitement that surround our entertainers, and this is the biggest stage in the world and I know people want to be part of that."

Pressed on whether some artists don't want to be associated with the league because  Kaepernick — the first NFL player to take a knee in protest of social injustice during the national anthem — remains unsigned, Goodell said he believes people "respect and admire" the league.


"Just to be clear, we have close to 200 million fans," Goodell said. "We know that segments are going to have different reactions to different things that go on in our league. But ultimately, I think people respect and admire the things we do and want to be part of it."

Maroon 5 is slated to perform at halftime of Sunday's game, with appearances by rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. Multiple artists, however, reportedly turned down the gig or urged others not to take it out of solidarity with Kaepernick.

Maroon 5 has remained largely quiet about the controversy. The group said Tuesday it had donated $500,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in partnership with the NFL and Interscope Records.

The band was scheduled to hold a press availability on Wednesday, but the NFL canceled the event. The league said in a statement the band "will let their show do the talking," though critics suggested the league did not want the group to face questions about Kaepernick.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a knee during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season to raise awareness of social justice issues. Dozens of other players have demonstrated during the anthem over the past few seasons, drawing scorn from President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE and some fans.

Kaepernick became a free agent following the 2016 season, and has filed a grievance against the league alleging owners colluded to keep him off a team.

Goodell said Wednesday that teams would sign Kaepernick if they thought he could help them win, though skeptics have noted that quarterbacks with worse statistics have retained jobs over the free agent.