Wary of the backlash against them from fans demanding they skip performing at halftime of Super Bowl LIII in order to support former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Maroon 5 will not hold the traditional pre-game press conference halftime acts normally do.
The NFL released a statement saying:
Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event. As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday. Starting with the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show announcement, we begin a cross-form rollout of behind the scenes footage and content from each of the halftime performers. Instead of hosting a press conference, this social and digital media rollout will continue through Sunday across our owned and operated media assets as well as through the platforms of the artists.
A Change.org petition has been created demanding Maroon 5 skip performing at the Super Bowl; by Tuesday night it had garnered over 110,000 signatures. It read:
Rihanna has reportedly turned down the opportunity to perform in front of over 100 million people at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show. Why? She supports Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been exiled from the NFL because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem. Kaepernick risked his career to take a knee for equality, and the NFL punished him for it. Until the league changes their policy and support players’ constitutional right to protest, no artists should agree to work with the NFL. Join me in asking Maroon 5 to drop out of the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show.
The petition cites Jay-Z for rejecting performing at the 2017 Super Bowl and mentions Amy Schumer praising Rihanna for her refusal while Schumer urged Maroon 5 to cancel. The petition adds, “The band has a chance to stand on the right side of history. If they don’t, they will be remembered for choosing to side with the NFL over its players.” It concludes, “Sign to tell Maroon 5 to drop out of the Super Bowl halftime show in solidarity with Kaepernick and players who #TakeAKnee.”
Maroon 5 has been aware of the pressure on the band to cancel their Super Bowl performance; speaking to the Associated Press roughly two weeks ago, the group’s keyboardist, PJ Morton, acknowledged, “This is definitely a controversial year, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. As a musician it’s the biggest stage you could ever play. Our job as musicians is to provide a service and make people feel good, and I think that’s going to be our mission — just to have a good time and do what we do. I’m excited to play on that stage, man. I watched halftime shows my whole life. I want to be there.”
Asked if part of him did not want to perform, Morton answered:
There was conflict for sure. There was conflict just because of all the rhetoric and all that I’ve seen around it. I guess I had to come to the conclusion that you can be employed by a corporation and still support the things that are being fought against. I can clearly say I am against police brutality against black and brown people at a higher rate, and I am for peacefully protesting. I stand for those things strongly, but I also think there are people who are employed by the NFL, who play football every week and support what Kap stands for and those two things as well. I think we can perform for the NFL and the players can play for the NFL and we can support Kap at the same time.