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NBC will air the national anthem for the opening game of Thursday Night Football, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The network, along with others, such as ESPN, will not show the anthem for every game, but there will be exceptions.
The onetime innocuous tradition has become as big of a deal as the game itself as a polarized nation debates whether it is appropriate for players to kneel during the anthem in protest of African-American inequality in America.
The situation was further inflamed this week when it was revealed Colin Kaepernick would be the new face of Nike’s Just Do It campaign. The former NFL star was the first to take a knee during the anthem, setting off a fierce public debate that has gone as high as the White House.
The first commercial for Kaepernick’s campaign will also air during Thursday Night Football.
Nike’s decision has been as celebrated as it has been detested.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday weighed in on the move, blasting Nike for its direction. The president has made the topic of NFL players kneeling one of his main talking points. He has demanded any player who kneels be fired and has referred to them as a “son of a bitch.”
The NFL released a statement on Tuesday siding with (company partner) Nike’s choice of Kaepernick for its new campaign.
The onetime Super Bowl quarterback is currently suing the league, accusing all of the team owners of collusion in an effort to blacklist him as punishment for being the first to take a knee during the anthem.
Following Kaepernick, numerous players on an assortment of teams have protested during the anthem, some taking a knee, others raising a fist in the air.
Last season, both the NFL and National Football League Players Association defended the rights of players to peacefully protest during the anthem.
However, during the offseason, team owners voted to change the rule, directing those who wanted to protest during the anthem to remain in the locker room. Those who took a knee on the sidelines would be fined.
That rule is now on hold after the NFLPA’s filed a grievance concerning the new anthem policy.
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