The narrative seems already established that media mogul Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter essentially has a handshake deal for partial ownership of an NFL team or is on a fast path to eventually having a team of his own.
But that's not the case. Multiple people connected to NFL ownership and the league office have told CBS Sports that this TMZ-reported rumor is simply false, that there are no plans in place for the rap legend to become an NFL owner.
The report was connected to the deal Carter's Roc Nation has to become the "live music entertainment strategist" for the NFL's major events. There was already enough to unpack in that. How will Roc Nation impact social justice campaigns with the NFL? How will this affect artists unwilling to work with the NFL in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick's exit from the league? When and how will money be spent? How different will the Super Bowl halftime show look under Jay-Z's leadership?
And unfortunately, the timing of the report, amid an already-charged atmosphere, has further complicated a murky situation which will take time to play out. Sources said it had people directly tied to the deal -- within the Roc Nation team and within the NFL offices -- scurrying to try to figure out who put the flawed info out there.
Was it leaked by someone with a particular agenda? Was it meant to obscure or conflate the actual intent of this arrangement?
Regardless, the deal does not include any ownership stake or parameters of a potential one. That's not to say that Jay-Z will not at some point get a piece of a team through his work with the league and its owners, but this is nothing like the situation between him and the Brooklyn Nets, where he paid the most nominal of fees to get a portion of the team while he campaigned for their move to that borough and served a particularly public function as the face of the franchise. Carter would have to be fully vetted and approved by membership, and he would have to divest himself of his growing athlete representation empire as well.
"Those kinds of deals don't exist in the NFL," as one super-plugged in ownership-level source put it. "There is no ownership component to this arrangement."
While the focus in terms of NFL diversity is generally on the coaching ranks, and to some degree, the general manager ranks, the lack of people of color in ownership is just as pressing. Seeing a group of controlling partners and limited partners who more closely resemble the demographics of NFL locker rooms is something all parties should embrace. But in this case, with this rapper, if it does happen it is quite a ways off, at the very least.
Look for Elliott to be signed by Week 1
Please try not to get too caught up in the breathless reporting over any words uttered by Jerry Jones or the Zeke Elliott camp. There is a deal to be done before real football games are played, both sides have always known it, and I still anticipate it gets done prior to Week 1.
Fret not, Cowboys Nation, that any of the money going to linebacker Jaylon Smith means there is less available for Elliott (or Dak Prescott or Amari Cooper), as it doesn't work that way. This franchise has been among the lower-spending teams the last five years, they have sufficient budgets to pay their emerging talent and they know just how vital this running back is to their cause.
There is room to budge as the regular season approaches, and there is also the very real threat of significant injury once September rolls around, and the bird in hand two weeks from now is going to be enough to get at least one or two more Cowboys to sign extensions. Elliott is uniquely poised to be among them, given the rate of injury and attrition at the position he plays, it's slumping economic position in the NFL pay scale and his off-field foibles. There is a deal to be done. I still believe it gets done next month.
Latest A.B. mess ends, but questions remain
The Antonio Brown helmet saga is over. Thank God.
Yet another situation fraught with faux-drama, there was never going to be any retirement and there was never any chance this dragged into the regular season and put that $30 million that the receiver fought to get this offseason at risk. But that's not very sexy, I suppose, and wasn't going to get in the way of clickbait season.
Even Steelers brass, who were watching this soap opera unfold very closely, knew there would be a happy ending to Helmetgate. "This was all BS," one team source said. "AB wants to play football. There was no chance he wasn't going to play for the Raiders. We all knew that. The Raiders had to know it too, but eventually all the drama wears you out."
Indeed, the real question becomes how long this next honeymoon phase lasts and what other distractions are ahead, if any. Can Brown -- who has basically been on winning teams, or teams with a chance to reach the playoffs deep into the season -- handle the ugliness of a rebuilding year if that's what 2019 ends up looking like for the Raiders? Will something nominally innocuous set him off?
I still expect him to perform like one of the top 10-12 receivers in the game, and he's certainly being paid with those expectations. But it was going to take a lot more than an expiring helmet and "circumcised" feet to prevent him cashing those paychecks and playing football for Oakland.