ESPN will not be broadcasting the national anthem during Monday Night Football this season, president Jimmy Pitaro said Friday.
MNF started including the anthem as a regular part of its broadcasts a few seasons ago, but stopped doing so last season other than a select few occasions.
“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think that will change this year,” Pitaro told Axios.com. “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. They have not asked but as courtesy and good partners, we have let them know what our plans are.”
After showing the anthem for a few seasons, MNF opted not to entering last season — citing the desire to use that time to highlight matchups and storylines before the game — but exceptions were made on three occasions:
First, for the season-opening game, which was held on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; again in Week 3, a week in which players across the league protested during the anthem in response to U.S. president Donald Trump’s comments at a rally; and also in Week 4, in the wake of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert.
Fox and CBS have traditionally not shown the anthem during the 1 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET windows of games, though both networks did so in Week 3.
Other than select games like Super Bowls or Sept. 11 tributes, NFL players were not traditionally on the field during the anthem prior to 2009, when the league began bringing players out before every game.
—Field Level Media