The NFL struggled to find acts to perform at this year’s Super Bowl. Its treatment of former quarterback turned activist Colin Kaepernick certainly didn’t help, nor did remaining silent on Vice President Mike Pence‘s national anthem walkout publicity stunt. And with the longest government shutdown in American history currently going on, the outlook of this year’s Super Bowl looks bleaker as the increased traffic is met by a sharp decrease in security and TSA staffers.

This was all before soul singer Gladys Knight, who’s performing this year’s national anthem, spoke out against Kaepernick in a statement to Variety on Friday. She wrote: “I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice. It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone. I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good — I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”


Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem has been a divisive issue nationwide. The move has garnered the support of civil rights groups but also hatred from the right. Though, even as a business move, it has benefited companies to stand by the activist. Nike’s sales increased by 31% after signing an endorsement deal with him. Several high profile artists have turned down the halftime spot in support of Kaepernick. Rapper Cardi B turned it down this year and Jay Z rejected the headlining spot at Super Bowl LII. This year, Travis Scott will join Maroon 5 for the halftime show. Their choices to perform has drawn much criticism.

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