NFL criticized for canceling Maroon 5 Super Bowl press conference amid protest controversy

The NFL made a move to avoid answering for the controversy surrounding its Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show by revealing that Maroon 5 will not be holding a press conference before the game.

Past performers including Justin Timberlake in 2018 and Lady Gaga in 2017 have addressed the press before the big show to give them a taste of what to expect and get some exposure before it all shakes out live. However, on Tuesday, the NFL quietly released a statement via Twitter explaining that this year will be different.

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“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,” the statement read in part.

It went on to explain that, in lieu of a press conference, both the NFL and Maroon 5 would showcase behind-the-scenes footage and content on their social media platforms.

Many see the move as a way to avoid direct questions about the band’s involvement with the Halftime Show following a slew of controversy since 2016 with regards to how the organization handled a protest movement sparked by former player Colin Kaepernick. The 31-year-old began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, gaining national attention and even a rebuke from President Trump. In 2017, the player became a free agent after opting out of his contract. He was not picked up by another team and is suing the NFL for allegedly colluding to keep him from playing.

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Maroon 5 has not directly addressed the controversy, even as many called for them to not participate in the Halftime Show as an act of solidarity with the protesters. However, the band did announce a $500,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in partnership with the NFL. It was later revealed that the band’s co-performer, Travis Scott, made the charitable donation a prerequisite for appearing at the event.

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Rapper Big Boi is also expected to perform alongside Maroon 5 at the big game on Sunday.

Fans were quick to take to Twitter to criticize the NFL for its attempt to subtly cancel the press conference.

"NFL finds a way to avoid the conversation about the Cardi B and the others who refused to perform, shoves the Colin Kaepernick conversation to the side once again," one user wrote.

"Definitely nothing else that's happened recently that deserves a statement, you're doing great," a more sarcastic user noted.

"i.e. The NFL doesn't want Maroon 5 to be asked about Kaepernick," a more blunt user stated.