ESPN changes mind, decides to broadcast anthem before Redskins-Chiefs game
ESPN, the premiere "sports journalism" network, decided not to show the National Anthem before the Monday-night match-up involving the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins.
But then the Vegas massacre happened. So the network switched gears and decided to show the emotional playing of the anthem and the moment of silence for victims of the attack.
While the entire Redskins team remained standing during the anthem, three Kansas City players either took a knee or sat during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Being ESPN, they had one shot of K.C. player Marcus Peters sitting on the bench.
Despite the solemn occasion, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe remained seated for the anthem, while linebacker Justin Houston knelt in apparent prayer.
It is unclear whether the players stood for the moment of silence held in honor of the Las Vegas victims before the anthem.
Peters was the only player shown seated on the televised broadcast, and thus drew the ire of fans who took issue with the protest.
'Man, can't get behind Marcus Peters and Ukeme Eligwe sitting tonight. No sir. Not tonight,' wrote Kansas City Star Sports Editor Jeff Rosen on Twitter.
'I supported the players protesting injustice since day 1. Today, my sadness overwhelms that support,' Rosen explained.
'Chiefs #Marcuspeters #22 your sitting during #anthem seems pretty petty in the light of #vegasshooting,' tweeted Kansas City realtor Paula Voss.
Peters began protesting during the national anthem last year by raising a fist, before switching to sitting.
'I was just stating how I'm black, and I love being black, (and) I'm supporting Colin in what he's doing as far as raising awareness with the justice system,' Peters told USA Today last year of raising his fist, referencing former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
'But I didn't mean anything (bad) by it,' Peters said.
Maybe Peters should ask some of the families of the Las Vegas victims if they thought he meant something 'bad by it.'
ESPN's reluctance to broadcast players sitting or kneeling during the anthem is more evidence of how toxic the whole situation has become – to the point that it is affecting the network's ratings and bottom line.
ESPN carried the anthem in past seasons but its production team decided not to air it this season, with the intention of devoting more pre-kickoff airtime to discussing key 'Monday Night Football' matchups and storylines. That plan hasn't exactly worked out, as the first 'MNF' telecast of the season fell on Sept. 11 -- so the network aired the anthem.
The network did not air the anthem in Week 2 but showed it prior to the Week 3 game when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones famously joined his team on the field and briefly kneeled before the anthem started. The anthem was among the biggest storylines of the week coming off a series of comments by President Trump that put a spotlight on anthem protestors. ...
'MNF' producer Jay Rothman explained that the network wouldn't show the anthem live during a preseason conference call with reporters, but so far that plan has been scrapped in all but one week. It seems so far that ESPN will continue to air the anthem as long as it's newsworthy and/or falls on a patriotic anniversary or on the heels of a national tragedy.
If the anthem is so "newsworthy," why not show the kneeling players on TV? Isn't that what's "newsy" about the anthem these days?
The TV networks and NFL are well and truly trapped. Their failure to act has made the anthem protest bigger than the sport. But even though they want the whole issue to disappear, they can't help but cover the story, given fan interest in the protest.
The three K.C. players who refused to stand during an anthem dedicated to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre showed that all their talk about their protest not being anti-American is just that – talk. While the entire nation is in mourning, their petty, political protest took precedence over showing solidarity with the victims.
I'm sure the Canadian Football League would welcome them with open arms.