Over the last few weeks, the NFL's treatment of the national anthem has been paramount in the news cycle.
The protests reached a fever pitch when President Donald Trump declared that players who do not stand for the anthem deserve to be fired. Various players and entire teams have decided to sit out the national anthem and to protest in their own ways in response. In the subsequent weeks, more and more teams have created ironclad policies around standing for the anthem. Owners of teams like the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys have said that players who “disrespect” the flag will not play on the team.
It seems that the NFL and its broadcast partners have also made a decision on the national anthem. It came as a shock to many watching “Monday Night Football” tonight between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings that ESPN flatly decided not to broadcast the singing of the national anthem at all.
Watching the broadcast of the pregame, ESPN cut to a commercial break during the time when the anthem would be sung and returned as the kickoff was beginning. Fans of both teams wondered in disbelief if their eyes had deceived them and if this was the final result of the anthem protest: that the national anthem would simply not be shown any longer on television:
No national anthem on the bears game tonight wtf
— Ryan Killinger (@killingerryanm) October 10, 2017
@NFL You think you have answer by not showing Anthem. This will not cut it. I have called my congressmen & told them do not pay my taxes 2 u
— Eddie (@Satch7Eddie) October 10, 2017
So MNF didn't show the National Anthem either? No @NFL games for me this week.
— dustin cary (@dustincary) October 10, 2017
Curious ... did Monday Night Football not show the National Anthem tonight?
— Scott Burks (@scottburks) October 10, 2017
None of the social media accounts for the Bears, Vikings, NFL or ESPN showed or shared the anthem either.
However, according to Illinois State Rep John Cabello, all players stood:
— John M. Cabello (@JohnCabello) October 10, 2017
So far, it seems the NFL and ESPN's decision has been met with some pretty strong reactions.