The showdown between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams is just days away, but the controversy surrounding the much-anticipated event has been brewing for months.
With the nation divided over the NFL’s shut-out of Colin Kaepernick, much of the headlines around Super Bowl LIII have involved whether or not to support the annual event. For Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the tensions stemming from the league’s stand make it a bittersweet moment to be playing host to the big game.
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“As an African American woman, I certainly understand where we are as a country and I have a great deal of respect for what [Kaepernick] has done and the personal sacrifice he’s made to take a stance, but also there’s an opportunity for our city to host this event and we’re excited about that,” Mayor Bottoms expressed at a Choose ATL kickoff event in New York City. “So, I think bittersweet would be a great word to use to describe it. I certainly wish that we were in a different place on so many levels.”
Grammy Award-winning producer Jermaine Dupri would have to agree. He told ESSENCE that he believes that players’ decisions to peacefully protest police brutality should be supported, and specifically, wants to support Kaepernick, but added, “Atlanta is a city that I felt like should have been supported at times when it wasn’t. So it’s hard for me to not support my city.”
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Dupri managed to reconcile his feelings by hosting free shows and events this week and inviting mothers of police brutality victims to take part. But had he been tapped for the big show, the proud Atlantan says he would have assembled Outcast, Usher, TLC, Ludacris, Lil Jon, T.I., and Jeezy, to take on half-time. “And if we had room, I would have put the Migos in there just so there’s a whole crossing of [talent],” added the Welcome To Atlanta rapper.
Personal sentiments aside, Atlanta’s highest-ranking official and one of its best-known musical acts, are excited for guests to be treated to the city’s southern hospitality. Even with its state-of-the-art airport, award-winning restaurants, and luxe accommodations, Bottoms and Dupri believe that the “special sauce” that makes Atlanta so unique is its people.
“I’m excited that it’s something the city has been buzzing about,” Dupri shared. “I’m excited to see people talking about Atlanta. To see Atlanta posted all over the place. People are really talking about our city.”
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