The NFL said today that the group fronted by The Voice mentor-coach won’t take part in the pregame presser traditionally attended by the musical act chosen to play the once-sought-after Big Gig. The decision comes amid a backlash against the group tied to fans believing that Levine and Maroon 5 should cancel their performance in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who launched the on-field kneeling protests and has been without a team in the ensuing seasons.
“Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event,” the NFL said in a statement today. “As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday.”
A Change.org petition to have the band pull out of the show cites superstar singer Rihanna’s reported choice to turn down the halftime gig in support of Kaepernick. More than 111,000 people had signed it as of Tuesday night.
Big Boi and Travis Scott also are schedule to perform with Maroon 5 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Gladys Knight, who famously sang about a “Midnight Train to Georgia,” will perform the national anthem.