The National Football League continued its social justice push Thursday night by ensuring that a song colloquially known as the black national anthem was performed prior to the season’s first game.
The Florida A&M University Concert Choir performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” along with a version of the song recorded last year by Alicia Keys prior to the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Michelle Williams.
— Florida A&M University (@FAMU_1887) September 10, 2021
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys stood solemnly on the end zone lines at Raymond James Stadium, many with their arms interlocked, during the performance.
After warmups, Cowboys and Buccaneers are standing on their respective end-zone lines for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by Alicia Keys and the Florida A&M choir. pic.twitter.com/05HOiX9oTL
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 10, 2021
“Tonight, the NFL, as it did last year, will present ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ also known as the black national anthem,” NBC announcer Mike Tirico said during the broadcast. “And it will happen at several league events during the year – the NFL continuing the attention around social justice causes.”
Not everyone is a believer in the league’s social justice emphasis.
“I don’t think people want politics in their sports,” former Fox News host Megyn Kelly said recently on “The Megyn Kelly Show,” according to Mediaite. “I think that’s why the NBA has taken such a hit and learned from its prior experience. The NFL doesn’t seem to be learning quite as quickly.”
Although the NFL is trying to minimize the number of times either song is played to a TV audience, Kelly said, there is no reason to have two songs.
“I don’t think that the average American — black or white – wants to hear the black national anthem before they hear the national anthem … and it’s no offense against people of color, we’re one country,” Kelly said. “We don’t need separate anthems.”
“It’s a chance to come together,” she said. “Celebrate America … and then play a sports game. And not to shove politics or divisive cultural issues down the throats of the viewers who are looking for a getaway.”
Many fans agreed.
But couldn’t have had a more abysmal opening with the black national anthem. Furthering the divide in this country. Hey woke @nfl we only have 1 anthem in America. It’s called the #NationalAnthem and it’s for all Americans regardless of race
— Lincoln Cobretti (@LincolnCobretti) September 10, 2021
Bucs-Cowboys opener begins with Black national anthemhttps://t.co/qLBsNGMfli
Terrible!!! Only one national anthem just like there’s only two genders. Radical left living in crazy town!!! Woke NFL just never learns. Fans were starting to watch again.
— Patrick T. Rooney (@PatrickTRooney) September 10, 2021
— fordnGA777 ✝️🔯✝️ (@fordmb1) September 10, 2021
Dallas talk show host Mark Davis shared thoughts of a similar vein in an Op-Ed for Newsweek on Sunday.
“The NFL should be primed to welcome back fans after COVID and social justice activism drove so many away,” he wrote. “But now comes news of additional scoldings delivered via NFL uniforms and playing fields.
“Ostensibly meant to inspire us to better ourselves, this messaging is in fact one more example of woke corporate America mobilizing to characterize us as a racist culture in dire need of upbraiding at every turn.
“Players will get to choose from various slogans to display on the backs of their helmets, including ‘Stop Hate,’ ‘End Racism’ and the famously divisive ‘Black Lives Matter.’ One wonders about the fate of any player choosing to leave his helmet unadorned.”
Davis said the slogans have real meanings, whether the NFL understands that or not.
“These are not just innocuous phrases pasted across helmets and stenciled onto end zone turf,” he wrote. “These messages tell every fan that the NFL sees America as a deeply broken land so riven by racism that the league must pepper stadiums and TV screens with constant sloganeering more suited to an incorrigible child than to a nation of grownups who can be relied on to make progress without finger-wagging from the world of sports.”
If the social justice theme was the same for the NFL opener, so was Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady’s ability to pull out a game in final moments, as Buccaneers defeated Dallas 31-29.
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