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‘What Happened to This Being for the Culture?’: Fans Are Split After ‘Verzuz’ Announces Partnership with the NFL, Swizz Beatz Responds

The “Verzuz” brand is growing, but not everyone is excited about its expansion.

On Saturday, Jan. 16, the popular online music event announced on its Instagram page that it would be partnering up with the National Football League for a special Pro Bowl “Verzuz” event. 

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 07: Swizz Beats performs at Swizz Beatz x American Express: Women in Art at Dream South Beach on December 07, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

“2021 Pro Bowl 🤝 @verzuztv.THE PAPERWORK IS IN!!! LET’S GIVE ATHLETES THEIR FLOWERS TOO!! ” the caption read alongside the event poster. It continued, “Watch some of today’s #NFL stars go head to head showcasing their position highlights every night (Jan. 26-29)!! The lineup and guests are going to be CRAZY!!! 🏈📺. Which Pro Bowl players do you want to see? #ProBowlVERZUZ.”

Verzuz announcement Photo: @verzuztv/Instagram

Hot New Hip Hop reported that the presentation would see numerous NFL heavy hitters go toe-to-toe with players who share the same position as them, very similar to how the musical version is played. Those players will then engage in a highlight package battle where fans will get to judge who has the better big players. 

However, when news broke about the new venture, fan support was split. Many seemingly held some resentment over the delay of the Ashanti and Keyshia Cole battle that has had a few pauses. At the same time, others felt as though the brand would be doing a disservice to its base by getting in bed with the enemy who, in the past, has received criticism for different teams’ handling of Black players kneeling during the National Anthem. One user wrote, “Aaaaand there’s the sellout we knew was coming.” Yet, Swizz Beatz, one of the co-founders, assured supporters that “the music will not stop,” asking fans, to “not be small minded 🙏🏽.”

Swizz Beatz Photo: @verzuztv/Instagram

Still, there was some pushback. One user wrote, “The same NFL that turned that back and blackballed Kaep and u wondering why ppl actually saying verzuz sold out come on swizz.” Another person commented, “@therealswizzz what happened to this being for the culture? That person added, “Y’all have continuously sold out ever since. Shameful.”

“@therealswizzz heartbreaking we had something all black 🤦🏽‍♀️,” a third expressed. A fourth person commented, “This page was created for entertaining and celebrating the culture now now it has turned to political page! Why can’t we have entertainment free from politics?” 

Not everyone criticized the move. A handful of those commenting seemed supportive of the plans, including one fan who described it as being “dope.” That person continued, “All yall saying that this is whack clearly don’t know how to make money. This is a smart play.”

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