ESPN will pass on showing live player protests during Week 4 of the NFL season. The Disney-owned network told Sporting News it won't air the playing of the national anthem before Redskins vs. Chiefs on "Monday Night Football."
The NFL's TV partners normally do not show players before the unfurling of the American flag and singing/playing of the national anthem, except before the Super Bowl and other select games. But given viewer interest around players staging demonstrations last week, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, NFL Network and DirecTV all provided live anthem coverage during Week 3.
The networks did not show instances of NFL fans booing or screaming at protesting players. When ESPN showed the live playing of the anthem before the Cowboys' 28-17 win over the Cardinals on MNF last week, play-by-play announcer Sean McDonagh noted fans were booing, but ESPN didn't show them. Said McDonagh: "God Bless America."
But with the league seemingly trying to put protests during the national anthem in the rear-view mirror, ESPN will return to its normal coverage strategy this week.
"ESPN MNF will not carry the anthem live," spokesman Mac Nwulu told SN.
PHOTOS: National anthem scenes in NFL
Fox split the baby, televising the national anthem before the Saints-Dolphins game in London but not showing it during regional games.
"As we have in previous broadcasts of NFL games from London, Fox will show the national anthem as well as 'God Save the Queen' live," according to spokesman Eddie Motl. "As is standard procedure, regionalized coverage of NFL games airing on Fox this Sunday will not show the national anthem live; however, our cameras are always rolling and we will document the response of players and coaches on the field.”
Prior the playing of the national anthem at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the Saints took a knee as a team, then stood during the singing of the national anthem while three Dolphins players took knees. Fox's TV cameras showed hardly any of that. Fox returned from commercial just as the Saints were rising to their feet for the anthem. It wasn't until the halftime show that Fox showed a clip of Saints coach Sean Payton taking a knee with his players.
NBC Sports televised live the playing of the U.S. national anthem before its "Sunday Night Football" broadcast of Colts-Seahawks in Seattle. CBS Sports showed the anthem live before its game telecasts.
This article has been updated with networks' coverage of the national anthem Sunday.