January 10, 2018 / 1:17 AM / a month ago

NBC plans to show player protests if they occur at Super Bowl

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - U.S. television network NBC, broadcaster of this year’s Super Bowl, will show any players who kneel during the pre-game national anthem to protest racial inequality, the game’s executive producer said on Tuesday.

Several dozen National Football League players kneeled, sat or locked arms during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the regular season, drawing rebukes from President Donald Trump who called it unpatriotic. Game broadcasters showed the protests during the initial weeks but reduced coverage of them later.

The anthem is typically shown live before the Super Bowl and this year will be performed by pop singer Pink at the Feb. 4 championship.

If any players decide to kneel at the Super Bowl, NBC will cover it, executive producer Fred Gaudelli said at a Television Critics Association event in Pasadena, California.

FILE PHOTO: The Atlanta Falcons run on to the field before Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

“When you are covering a live event, you are covering what’s happening,” Gaudelli said. “If there are players who choose to kneel, they will be shown live.”

Announcers likely will identify the players, explain the reasons behind the actions, “and then get on with the game,” Gaudelli said.

Some members of the Cleveland Browns team kneel, while others stand, during the National Anthem before the start of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, U.S., September 24, 2017. USA TODAY Sports/Thomas J. Russo/File Photo

He also noted that the number of protests had waned since Thanksgiving.

The players who kneeled during the regular season said they were protesting the killing by police of unarmed black men and boys across the United States, as well as racial disparities in the criminal justice system. More than half of all NFL players are black.

The Super Bowl is the year’s most-watched U.S. television broadcast, attracting an audience of more than 100 million people. NBC is a unit of Comcast Corp.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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