ESPN Will Not Broadcast National Anthem Before 'Monday Night Football' Games

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2018

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 6: Fans stand at attention for the national anthem overlooking a 100 yard American flag prior the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium on January 6, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
Jason Hanna/Getty Images

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said Friday the network doesn't plan to air the United States national anthem before its Monday Night Football telecasts during the 2018 NFL season.

Sara Fischer of Axios provided comments from Pitaro, who said ESPN informed the league about its decision but left the door open to reverse it.

"We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don't think that will change this year," he said. "Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem … again that could change. It's unpredictable what could happen in the world but as of now, we're not. We have communicated that back to the NFL."

The anthem issue remains a polarizing topic for the NFL.

Although the league's owners approved a plan in May that would have allowed the NFL to fine teams who had players kneel on the field during the anthem, enforcement of the policy is on hold after the Players Association announced a "standstill agreement" pending further discussions.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who was among the players to kneel during last week's preseason games, explained what the NFL would need to do for him to stand, per Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.

"What would it take? It would take a lot," he said. "But I think a good first step for us as a league would be acknowledging what they're doing to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. You can't say as a league that you support the players and the protest and then blackball the players that initially started the protest."

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has continued to use the debate as a talking point:

The NFL hasn't provided a timetable for a final decision about whether its new anthem policy will be in place when the regular season kicks off Sept. 6.

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