Photo: Erik Pendzich/REX USA.
Following Ray Rice's suspension and the public outcry of the National Football League's handling of domestic violence among its ranks, CBS Thursday Night Football replaced a pre-game segment featuring Rihanna. The singer was set to debut the new Thursday Night Football theme song, "Run This Town," her collaboration with Jay Z. The segment also featured narration by Don Cheadle and a comedy sketch. Instead, it was replaced by coverage of Rice's arrest on domestic violence charges, and his subsequent suspension from the league.
“It’s important to realize we are not overreacting to this story, but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, told Sports Illustrated, speaking to the network's decision. “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone.”
It remains unclear if Rihanna's performance has been pulled for all games, or just for last night's Ravens versus Steelers face-off.
Since Rice's suspension on Monday, there have been a number of other developments:
- CBS' James Brown delivered a commentary challenging the NFL to address the widespread issue of domestic violence within the league. "This problem is bigger than football," says Brown.
- Sixteen female senators sent a letter to Roger Goodell asking him to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against domestic violence. New NFL standards dictate a six-game suspension for first-time offenders, and a lifetime ban for repeat offenders. Players banned under this rule can apply for reinstatement after one year.
- Some women are still wearing Rice's #27 jersey, pledging their support to the former Raven. "As a woman, she shouldn't have hit him. If I hit you, I would expect you to hit me back. And that's just how it goes," one fan told the New York Daily News.
- The New York Times reminds us how common it is for a professional athlete to continue playing without consequence following domestic violence charges.