ESPN won't show anthem during Monday Night Football

Monday, August 20, 2018
Michael F. Haverluck (

ESPN logoESPN reignited last year’s National Football League controversy by announcing that it will not include coverage of the national anthem during its Monday Night Football game programming.

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro’s controversial decision to not honor the flag, America and its soldiers by not broadcasting the anthem was made right before the NFL’s first preseason game, taking place during tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.

“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem, and I don’t think that will change this year,” Pitaro declared in his announcement, according to TheBlaze. “Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem. Again, that could change. It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world, but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked, but as [a] courtesy and [as] good partners, we have let them know what our plans are.”

In fact, ESPN only showed football teams and their fans saluting their flag during three of its 16 televised Monday Night Football broadcasts – apparently in a gesture of national unity during tough times … as opposed to division.

“ESPN largely avoided broadcasting the national anthem during last season’s Monday Night Football as well, only airing it on three occasions – after the Last Vegas massacre, Hurricane Harvey and Trump’s comments on the protests. Townhall reported.

Will it ever end?

With most die-hard football fans hoping for more fabulous plays on the gridiron and less politicking from sidelines, many are already bound to be disappointed with the way things have already evolved this year after the ongoing controversy that started a couple years ago when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem – with dozens on many teams over the past two seasons taking his lead.

“The move comes after a now years-long controversy set off by former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the national anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality,” Townhall noted. “Donald Trump often railed against the protests as a candidate and has continued to do so into his presidency.”

And things appear to be heating up again this year, with more action taking place off the field than on.

“Pitaro made the comment in light of an ongoing controversy over some players [still] refusing to stand during the national anthem,” TheBlaze’s Teri Webster reported. “The protests are continuing this year.”

When asked by a reporter about the political dynamics of such a move to not televise the national anthem, Pitaro appeared disturbed, retorting that ESPN is not a political organization – even though his sports network and its broadcasters have made numerous bold progressive stands and statements over the past few years.

“It’s not our job to cover politics – purely – but we’ll cover the intersection of sports and politics,” the head of ESPN responded, according to Townhall. “When something happens – when the Eagles are disinvited from White House, or when someone takes a knee – if we think [its] newsworthy, we’re going to cover it.”

Here we go again …

Just last Thursday, during a rematch between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots – the two teams that battled it out in the Super Bowl earlier this year in February – NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that players from winning team from Philly stood hidden away inside the tunnel while the national anthem was being played.

“Several Philadelphia Eagles players [including safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby] did not take the field during the playing of the national anthem on Thursday night, as NFL players continue to demonstrate at games,” The Hill informed. “The pair ran onto the field after the song ended and were soon joined by defensive end Michael Bennett – who reportedly stayed in the locker room during the song.”

This was an ongoing protest from the previous week, when the safety and cornerback made an even more brazen protest against law enforcement and the American flag.

“Last week, Jenkins and Bausby both raised their fists during the national anthem at a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to protest racial injustice and police brutality,” The Hill’s Aris Folley recounted.

And to the dismay of many fans, these were not isolated pregame incidents.

“Players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks also reportedly remained in the tunnel until the end of the anthem [the previous] week,” Folley added.

Wanting to avoid the disrespectful conduct demonstrated by scores of NFL players kneeling and protesting last year, President Donald Trump continued his condemnation of the remnant of football’s top professional athletes who still refuse to honor their country, their flag and those committed to protect and serve them.

“[These NFL players still protesting the national anthem just] wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define,” Trump tweeted last Friday after a number of protests at multiple Thursday night games.

A spark of hope dashed

Many NFL fans and players were eager to get back to business months ago when the NFL caved to pressure from the right – not to mention declining ratings and ticket sales – and decided to establish some rules in May, making it mandatory for all players to stand up (or stay in the locker room) during the national anthem for the 2018–2019 season.

“The NFL sought to end the controversy over national anthem protests by imposing a policy earlier this year that would prevent players from protesting during the national anthem,” Folley recalled.

It called for players refusing to stand for the national anthem to remain in the locker room so that they would not be openly displaying their defiance or disrespect.

“Under the new policy, players who do not choose to stand for the anthem before games will have the option of staying in the locker room,” the Los Angeles Times reported in May. “But a club will be fined if players or personnel are on the field and do not stand ‘and show respect for the flag and the anthem.’"

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement while apparently standing firmly behind the policy.

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," Goodell proclaimed at the time, according to the Times. "We want people to stand – that's all personnel – and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe, [but] we were also very sensitive to give players choices."

But the NFL Players Association was quick to tweet that it was not consulted about the decision, and pressure from ultra-left social justice activists on the field and in the stands prompted the NFL to pull the plug on its directive forcing players to honor the flag.

The question subsequently raised as to what exactly constitutes “showing respect” for the flag – as gestures such as raising one’s fist and locking arms were brought up – but Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II, who was one of the NFL team owners who voted unanimously to support the must-stand policy, said there should not be much confusion.

"I don't know that it will be hard to define what a protest is," Rooney asserted, according to the Times. "I think standing at attention is a pretty simple concept."

Even though the vote amongst owners was unanimous, at least one abstention was noted – from the San Francisco 49ers … where the whole controversy began two years ago with Kaepernick’s political grandstanding from the sidelines.

"I think we have to have a deeper conversation with our players," San Francisco 49ers Chief Executive Jed York expressed, according to the Times. "When I look at all the things we've started in social justice reform, I think there's more to it. I think there's ambiguity in terms of what's respectful and what's disrespectful."

Despite the preponderance of agreement amongst owners to implement the policy and let the game move forward, the social justice activists managed keep the policy from being enforced when the NFL reneged it in July.

“The policy was later placed on hold after drawing a wave of complaints from players and fans,” Folley added.

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