Nickelback’s Thanksgiving Show Makes United Way ‘Grateful’

Organization addresses controversy surrounding band's halftime performance in Detroit in an email to MTV News.

By now, you’ve no doubt heard what some Detroit Lions fans have to say about Nickelback’s halftime performance at the team’s annual Thanksgiving game (hint, it isn’t good), but to date, folks with the Lions — and the NFL, for that matter — have remained silent on the matter.

The same cannot be said, however, for the United Way, the sponsors of the halftime show, who released a statement last week officially confirming that Nickelback were onboard for the event, and have now weighed in on the controversy surrounding their performance. In particular, the organization addressed criticism from some Lions fans that an artist from Detroit should have been booked for the high-profile game in an email to MTV News.

“We’re grateful to Nickelback for generously donating time and resources to this effort,” United Way director of publicity Sal Fabens wrote. “This is a nationally televised show that historically has featured artists from many locations, such as Indiana’s John Mellencamp [and] New York’s Mary J. Blige … For the past two years, we featured Motown artists and Detroit’s own Kid Rock, but the performers have never been limited to those from Detroit.”

Fabens also wrote that, in one way, the fact that some 75,000 fans have signed an online petition calling for the band’s ouster is fitting, since the theme of the United Way’s halftime performance is “Live United.”

“This is a call to action, an invitation for everyone to join us, regardless of their stance on various issues, to move forward on creating opportunities for a better life for all,” he wrote. “It’s going to take everyone working together … to make progress on ambitious goals in the areas of education, income and health across the country … We invite varying points of view and voices to all come together so we can move forward.

“We would hope that various opinions about a rock band don’t overshadow the fact that the band’s generosity is helping to bring attention to this message,” Fabens’ email concluded.