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Monday Night Football on ESPN will feature the national anthem this evening, a portion of the pre-game which is not always televised.
In addition to the anthem being shown, the NFL’s “Inside These Lines” unity ad, which also aired during Sunday Night Football, will be shown during a commercial break.
Both moves are occurring after a polarizing weekend of debate concerning whether professional athletes should be forced to stand during the national anthem.
The debate was reignited Friday night when Donald Trump said during a rally for another political candidate that players who sit during the anthem should be fired by their team owner. The president went so far as calling those who patriciate in the peaceful protest a “son of a bitch.”
The backlash to Trump’s remarks was fairly instant, the NFL releasing a statement Saturday morning commenting on Trump’s “lack of respect” for the game and defending players’ right to protest.
Numerous NFL players sat out the national anthem during Sunday’s games. Three teams skipped that portion of the pre-game altogether, staying in the locker room until it concluded.
It was reported that some fans booed players who kneeled; the president on Monday morning tweeting he was pleased to hear such action occurred.
Multiple game commentators addressed Trump’s remarks, including Sunday Night Football’s Cris Collinsworth, who said on air that Trump owed players an apology, and Bob Costas, who said it was Colin Kaepernick who did the patriotic act when he sat out the anthem and sparked a new conversation about racial inequality.
Last season, free-agent quarterback Kaepernick was the first to sit out the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African-Americans in America, especially at the hands of police officers. Since then, numerous other players have protested in similar fashion in a number of different sports.
Trump has been relentless on the matter since he mentioned it Friday night, tweeting multiple times over the weekend that the NFL needed to “change its policy” and that players protesting in such a fashion would hurt ratings. Trump has said multiple times his issue with the players’ action has nothing to do with race.
Players responded in kind over their social media accounts, blasting Trump for his stance on the topic.
Monday morning, commentator and radio host Dan Patrick asked where Trump’s same anger and passion was when a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, while she protested a white nationalist rally.
The Dallas Cowboys play the Arizona Cardinals on MNF.
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