A source tells PEOPLE that "everyone at the NFL" believes Rihanna's decision was made in support of Colin Kaepernick
“Yes they asked her and yes, she declined,” a source with knowledge of the situation tells PEOPLE, adding that the decision was likely made in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“That’s certainly what everyone at the NFL believes,” the insider adds. “I don’t work with Rihanna so I don’t know what her camp told them, but the word within the organization is that’s why she said no.”
The football player, 30, is known for starting the #TakeAKnee movement in 2016, where he declined to stand for the national anthem at games in protest of police brutality and the racial injustices faced by people of color in America.
Us Weekly was the first to report the news.
Although Kaepernick began raising awareness to the cause in 2016 by remaining seated on the bench during the national anthem, both he and teammate Eric Reid eventually decided that instead of sitting, they should take a knee.
“We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture,” Reid wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times in 2017. “I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.”
Kaepernick later went on to clarify that the protest was not about disrespecting the U.S. military.
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While the silent act of protest quickly spread to other NFL teams, it also generated substantial backlash. In March 2017, the quarterback opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
The athlete hasn’t been hired by another team since and in an ongoing lawsuit, is suing the NFL for colluding to keep him unsigned because of his politics. An arbitrator recently threw out the NFL’s request to dismiss the case.
Kaepernick is also the new face of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign.
In the powerful ad, a black and white photograph of the athlete’s face is superimposed with the words: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
While Rihanna won’t be taking the stage at the upcoming 2019 Super Bowl, a source previously confirmed to PEOPLE that Maroon 5 will be.
“It’s a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show,” it reads. “We are continuing to work with [longtime sponsor] Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show.”