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ESPN will televise NFL players' protesting, singing of black national anthem on Monday Night Football

Not shying away from controversy

Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

ESPN will televise any NFL players protesting the national anthem beginning on Monday — and will also feature the singing of the "black national anthem," according to reports.

What are the details?

Monday Night Football's Monday debut will likely be chock-full of protesters and will have two songs.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN — which typically shows the honor guard and the singing of the national anthem — will have a different format this season.

The network also reportedly has plans to televise the singing of the "black national anthem," a song called "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing."

ESPN Executive Vice President of Event and Studio Production Stephanie Druley told reporters, "Our policy is to cover the anthem when it's newsworthy. That's not going to change. We are going to continue as we've done with the NBA and the WNBA. We will cover social justice movements, actions, as they happen. We're not going to shy away from that."

Druley added, "Look, we're going to keep our main rule, which is when it intersects with sports, we're going to cover it, and look, we don't see the social justice movement as being political. It's social justice."

When asked if viewers would be able to see the playing of the national anthem, Druley said she didn't know.

"We will make a judgment call every week," she responded. "But I can tell you that Week 1, that first game, you will see the anthem — and you will see 'Lift Ev'ry Voice.'"

'The country is going through a lot of political situations'

According to the report, NFL players will "be encouraged to salute victims of police brutality by placing details with their names on their helmets."

"The league will also stencil social justice statements such as 'End Racism' and 'It Takes All of Us' in end zones this season," the report continued. "The league will play 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' before each game during opening weekend."

On Tuesday, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus issued similar remarks.

"We don't forget the fact that the country is going through a lot of political situations with Black Lives Matter, social justice and social injustice," he said. "We're not going to ignore that. Obviously, we're going to address it in our pregame show, with interviews and features. But the coverage of the game, once we get to our game coverage, will obviously be focusing on presenting the action on the field. But we don't forget and we don't ignore those other two elements."

McManus pointed out that a delicate balance needs to be struck with regard to this highly unique season's viewership.

"We need to thread the needle just the right way. Because there are people who are tuning in just to hear about football. So we need to make sure that we don't overdo the emphasis on what's going on in our country," McManus explained. "But we're not going to ignore it. Our announcers on-site at the games are not going to condone and they're not going to condemn what's going on. They're going to report it — and they're going to move on."

On Monday, the New York Giants will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Tennessee Titans will square off against the Denver Broncos.

One last thing…
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