Miltenberg: “Half Sellout, Half Savior: What Jay-Z’s NFL Deal and Possible Team Ownership Really Mean,” Variety


On Friday night, three days after news broke that Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation had struck a controversial entertainment-and-social-justice deal with the NFL, a report suddenly emerged that he is in talks to acquire a “significant” stake in an unspecified league team. Jay’s rep declined to comment on the report, the non-denial gave the rumor legs, and the drama that began with the announcement that Jay was now in bed with an organization he had previously harshly criticized — for its treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has essentially been drummed out of the professional football for kneeling during the National Anthem as a statement of protest, among other issues — spun even higher into overdrive. Yet some observers question whether the ownership bid is real, or whether instead it’s a counter-narrative planted to stem the wave of criticism Jay has received over the Roc Nation-NFL deal … “Public opinion is divided: He’s half sellout and half savior,” says sports and entertainment attorney Alan K. Fertel, who has represented players and agents and consulted for the NFL. “But if anyone can turn the white country club of the NFL around, it’s him.” Several complicated questions are in play: Can he own a team and his Roc Nation Sports agency at the same time, as a source close to him claimed to TMZ? Could he even afford to buy “significant” ownership of a team, even though he’s a newly minted billionaire? And finally, would the other team owners accept him, let alone allow him to make substantive change — such as overseeing a deal to bring back Kaepernick, with whom he apparently has a strained relationship at present — in the troubled league? The three attorneys agreed that he could in theory have ownership in a team and an agency, but it’s extremely unlikely. “There is a section of the NFL Players’ Association rules that prohibits an individual from [having ownership in a team and an agency], but the league can make its own judgement and deviate, if a majority of owners and the commissioner feel that the opportunity for conflict is limited,” says veteran sports attorney Andrew Miltenberg. “But even setting aside the legalities of it, the optics would be absolutely terrible. It would discredit his role as an owner and as an agent.”

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