"The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year's performer in Atlanta," the source told the magazine. "They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn't agree with the NFL's stance."
“The offer and exposure would have been great for Rihanna as she’s planning a new album and tour but she stuck to what’s right in her eyes,” a source told Entertainment Tonight.
A second source told ET that the league also considered Pink — who knocked last year's Super Bowl national anthem out of the park despite having the flu — for February's halftime show, but that she backed out after negotiations took too long. The source also said that Kaepernick was not mentioned in the early discussions with Rihanna and Pink.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. The former San Fransisco 49ers player has not played since 2016 and in 2017 filed a grievance against the league and its owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him off the field.
In May, the NFL enacted a rule that would fine players or teams for conspicuously protesting the national anthem.
The NFL reportedly extended the halftime offer to Maroon 5 only after Rihanna refused it. Neither the league nor the band has made an official statement on the alleged performance, although it has been widely reported that they will be the headlining act. It is also rumored that Cardi B, who is featured on the band's hit "Girls Like You," will be a special guest during the performance.
"She is definitely being considered, but it's obviously way too early to say for sure," one source told Us Weekly. Another said that "Pepsi, the NFL and Cardi are all interested in her performing more than just her 'Girls Like You' verse."
The rapper's possible involvement partly assuages some hip-hop fans' disappointment with the Maroon 5 announcement, with many arguing that because Super Bowl LIII will be in Atlanta, the show should pay tribute to the city's rich hip-hop history. Some fans are hoping that Cardi B would be joined by rapper Travis Scott, who is reportedly on a "short list" with her for the show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"It's a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show. We are continuing to work with Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show," a representative for Maroon 5 told Billboard after sources told the magazine Scott and Cardi might join the band.