Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
For the better part of the past decade, the singing of the national anthem before a big game has been less of a patriotic moment that brings us together and more of a cultural landmine.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his anthem-kneeling antics represented patient zero of this controversy during the 2016 NFL season, and his inability to find further employment in professional football made the matter a cause célèbre of the left, which understood (or at least pretended to understand) little about Kaepernick’s declining skills but pretended it knew everything about racism inside sports.
However, the disease metastasized. Soon, entire NFL teams weren’t taking the field for “The Star-Spangled Banner” so as to not cause division between players who stood for the anthem and knelt for it.
It went beyond football to the point where players on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, which represents the United States internationally, took a knee for their own country’s anthem in protest against perceived injustices in the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Teams from places such as China and Vietnam tended not to replicate this behavior. I wonder why.)
I dredge up this ugly slice of recent history only to say that I hope that Super Bowl LVIII could be evidence that we’re finally past that performative, anti-American nastiness.
The national anthem was sung by Reba McEntire, a symbol of America if there ever was one. She nailed it, as we should have guessed she would.
What we wouldn’t guess is that it brought Kansas City Chiefs star defensive tackle Chris Jones to tears.
At about 45 seconds into the video below, the CBS telecast switched to a shot of Jones, who had tears streaming down his face:
— NFL (@NFL) February 11, 2024
Perhaps it was just the fact that he was overwhelmed with emotion from being at the Super Bowl. However, Jones — who was picked by the Chiefs in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft — has been there four times in the past five years.
He’s no spring chicken when it comes to this, in other words.
So it seems likely Reba’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” elicited the waterworks. The defensive lineman — one of the Chiefs’ anchors on defense, earning both first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors this year — wasn’t the only one praising the country singer’s rendition:
Now THAT’S how you show patriotism! Thank you Reba!
— Venetta Carroll (@Carrol10Venetta) February 11, 2024
Reba absolutely crushed it 🔥
— Di$neyBeachLV (@Disneybeachlv) February 11, 2024
Outstanding performance by Reba! Now that’s the way our National Anthem should be sung always. 🇺🇸
— KT 🇺🇦🇮🇱🇺🇲 (@KT_11110) February 11, 2024
Jones recorded two solo tackles and two assists during the game, according to the official NFL stat sheet. In addition, he got two hits on the 49ers’ Brock Purdy and pressured the young quarterback on a key third-down play in Kansas City’s 25-22 overtime victory.
Chris Jones unblocked with Aiyuk wide open pic.twitter.com/tEL1YChAEz
— Guy Haberman (@GuyHaberman) February 12, 2024
Nevertheless, no matter how you felt about the other politically loaded questions around the game — Taylor Swift’s presence, the singing of the “black national anthem,” whether Travis Kelce’s haircut is cultural appropriation — at the very least, you had Reba McEntire nailing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and bringing a star player to tears.
If that isn’t a sight for sore eyes after years of football turning the national anthem into a social hot potato, I don’t know what is.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.