The N.F.L. on Sunday ended months of uncertainty by officially announcing Maroon 5 and the rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi as the lineup for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
In an indication of how fraught the debate around the high-profile performance has become, Scott released a statement on Sunday announcing that he and the N.F.L. will partner on a $500,000 donation to the social justice group Dream Corps — a move that seemed to be aimed at stemming a backlash from groups that have criticized the football league’s policies.
Sources familiar with the N.F.L.’s Super Bowl plans had confirmed the rock band Maroon 5 as the headliner as long ago as September, and Scott emerged last month as a reported addition to the Feb. 3 halftime performance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Big Boi, the newest name on the bill, is a member of the Atlanta rap group Outkast.
But the run-up to this year’s halftime announcement had turned into a skirmish over sports and politics, as artists and others criticized the N.F.L. over its treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players who have taken a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.
In February, the rapper Cardi B, who was featured on Maroon 5’s hit “Girls Like You” last year, told the celebrity news website TMZ that she would consider performing at a halftime show “when they hire Colin Kaepernick back.”
In a song released last June, Jay-Z rapped, “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”
Scott’s involvement, specifically, has prompted criticism from some. In an interview with TMZ, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he thought Scott “should do what a lot of other major artists have done — say, ‘I’m not going to participate.’”
“You can’t fight against Jim Crow and then go sit in the back of the bus,” he added.
In a pair of tweets, the rapper Meek Mill responded to the news that Scott would be performing with, “For what????” and “He don’t need that he on fire already!”
And Gerald Griggs, first vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., told The Guardian that the chapter had contacted artists and asked them not to perform. “The majority of artists we’ve reached out to are standing in solidarity against the N.F.L.,” Griggs said. “They do not want to be associated because of the protest that was started by Mr. Kaepernick against racial injustice and police brutality.”
For his part, Van Jones, the president of Dream Corps and a founder of the group, celebrated the announcement in a post on Twitter, addressing Scott by his handle.
“This is great news!” Jones wrote. “Welcome, @trvisXX. Glad to have you with us, brother!”
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