Forget betting on which team makes it into Super Bowl LIII next February. The bigger ticket just might be on who's there at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to perform for us all when the game goes into halftime.

Though neither the NFL nor Maroon 5 have confirmed it, it's been widely reported that the Adam Levine-fronted band will be the headlining act during the official Pepsi Halftime Show, following in the footsteps of previous headliners like Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Coldplay. And the decision seemed like quite a safe bet on the NFL's part. Levine's a seasoned pro who knows how to handle live TV thanks to his years on The Voice. The band has had a near-ubiquitous presence on the radio since their debut album dropped in 2002, leaving them with a wide stable of hits to perform for the masses. And we dare you to find a mom who doesn't love Levine. That woman just doesn't exist.

So, it seemed like Maroon 5 checked all the boxes, most importantly the one about no controversy. After all, the NFL's found itself in quite enough of that on its own over the last few years. But lo and behold, in the last few weeks, Levine and his bandmates have found themselves on the wrong side of internet furor, as thousands have begun to demand they step down from the coveted role. Why? Allow us to explain.

Colin Kaepernick

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The drama for Levine and Co. began about a month ago when reports began circulating that the band only got the gig after Rihanna turned an offer down in order to express her support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked headlines and controversy in 2016 after he began kneeling during the national anthem at the start of every game as an act of peaceful protest of police brutality and racial inequality taking place around the country. Currently a free agent, Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL owners in October 2017, arguing that the NFL and its owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."

The following May, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell instituted a new policy stating that all league and team personnel must stand and "show respect" for the flag and the Anthem. Any person who chose not to stand could remain in the locker room during the moment, but a team with personnel on the field not on their feet during the anthem would be fined.

According to Us Weekly, RiRi was offered the halftime show, "but she said no because of the kneeling controversy," a source told the magazine. "She doesn't agree with the NFL's stance."

What does this have to do with Maroon 5, aside from the fact that it means we also probably won't get a performance of the 2008 remix of "If I Never See Your Face Again" featuring the "Work" singer during their halftime show, you ask?

Well, after Amy Schumer took to Instagram on October 19 to suggest that "it would be cool" if the band followed Rihanna's lead and backed out, while also noting that she'd personally told her reps that she wouldn't appear in any Super Bowl commercials this year, a petition popped up on Change.org, looking for signatures to back a request that Maroon 5 do just that.

Adam Levine, Maroon 5

Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"Maroon 5 has made music over the years featuring artists from all genres, including Rihanna, Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar — all of whom have publicly supported Kaepernick in his decision to protest the violent racism sweeping the United States. Maroon 5 must do the same," the petition reads. "The band has a chance to stand on the right side of history. If they don't, they will be remembered for choosing to side with the NFL over its players."

"Until the league changes their policy and support players' constitutional right to protest, no artists should agree to work with the NFL," it continues. "Join me in asking Maroon 5 to drop out of the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show."

As of press time, the petition has been signed by 48,033 people with a goal of 50,000.

While they've yet to publicly comment on the demands they step down, likely owing to the fact that they haven't even officially confirmed their involvement yet, should Levine and his band mates James Valentine, Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, Matt Flynn, PJ Morton and Sam Farrar actually decide to buckle under the outside pressure and back out, it will certainly be an unprecedented move. And looked at purely from a business standpoint, possibly an unwise one. After all, find us a band who doesn't want to perform for a global audience of over 100 million viewers and we'll show you a bunch of liars.

So what will Maroon 5 do? Will the ire of the internet be enough for them to walk away from the opportunity to perform on quite literally the world's biggest stage? Place your bets now and stay tuned.

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