Much to the chagrin of the NFL front offices, if there’s one thing that the 2017 season will be known for, it’ll be national anthem protests.
What started in 2016 with free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick steadily grew to include a number of NFL players in 2017.
It all came to a crescendo in September, when President Donald Trump called out the NFL for its handling of players who protested during the anthem, including Kaepernick.
In response, swathes of NFL players and coaches demonstrated during the anthem.
Since then, the number of protesting players has certainly dwindled, but they’re not all gone.
So as the NFL barrels towards its finale, the specter of players kneeling on the league’s biggest stage is looming.
And NBC, which will broadcast Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, is very much aware of that possibility.
But instead of opting to do anything about it, NBC revealed that it plans on giving any potential anthem protesters maximum exposure.
NBC Executive Producer Fred Gaudelli spoke at a Television Critics Association event in Pasadena, California, and detailed NBC’s plans, per the New York Post.
“When you are covering a live event, you are covering what’s happening,” Gaudelli said. “If there are players who choose to kneel, they will be shown live.”
But NBC won’t just be showing the players. It’s planning on elevating their entire platform.
Gaudelli detailed plans that would have the announcers identify the players by name, and also highlight the reason that the players kneel.
Adding fuel to the situation is the fact that NBC and the NFL chose pop singer Pink to sing the national anthem.
Pink has never been shy about her disdain for Trump, saying in a recent interview the president is “simply f—ing unbelievable. There is no good stuff with him, no good stuff at all. There’s zero there.”
Of note, there are eight teams remaining in the NFL playoffs. Of them, only one, the Tennessee Titans, has a player who is still actively demonstrating during the national anthem.
Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews opts to stay in the locker room during the national anthem as a form of protest.
The only other playoff team that featured an active anthem protester was the Los Angeles Rams. Linebacker Robert Quinn raises his fist as a form of protest during the national anthem.
The Rams were eliminated in the wild-card round by the Atlanta Falcons.
The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Falcons had no players protest the national anthem in Week 17.
However, all of them except the Vikings had players display some form of protest during the anthem this season.
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