Hot mic, hot take: Jim Nantz criticizes NFL players kneeling for the national anthem

Ben Rohrbach
Shutdown Corner

CBS Sports broadcaster Jim Nantz is a strange bird. The man carries a laminated photo of burnt toast, just so waiters don’t bring back some “limp and tan” bread with his three scrambled eggs and bacon.

Jim Nantz also talks a lot. His voice has been the soundtrack of The Masters since 1989, the Final Four since 1991 and many a Super Bowl since 2007, not to mention the Olympics and the tennis U.S. Open.

[Play our $175K Baller | Free Yahoo Cup entry | Tips for your Daily lineup]

When you’re a strange bird and talk a lot, chances are you’ll end up saying something you come to regret into a microphone, and that appears to be the case now that Deadspin uncovered an eight-second clip catching the play-by-play announcer on a hot mic suggesting NFL players protesting the national anthem “are going to keep kneeling as long as they have cameras right up to their face.”

The clip comes from a Thursday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals this past September, when Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas, as they’ve done all season, kneeled during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in support of the effort to raise awareness about social injustice, initiated by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

It’s quite clear from this clip that Nantz not only believes players are kneeling for attention, which is of course is the entire point of the protest, he also considers the fact they’re doing it on camera as detrimental, which is also not the case when you’re trying to start a nationwide conversation. The more players kneel in front of cameras during the national anthem, the more people like Nantz are forced to discuss the issues they’re trying to raise awareness about, so, yeah, that’s the whole idea.

Jim Nantz talks a lot. (Getty Images)
Jim Nantz talks a lot. (Getty Images)

This clip also sheds a different light on some Nantz comments as CBS came back from a break between quarters in Thursday night’s game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers:

“By the way … there was a lot of discussion and scrutiny about the national anthem … just to be fair here, between the quarter change, they played ‘God Bless America.’ Philip Rivers — in the middle of a drive — he paused and was singing. You see in the background there, Melvin Ingram along with Jatavis Brown, hands over their heart.”

CBS color analyst Phil Simms concurred, “It’s a good sight.” Video of Rivers and several San Diego teammates singing “God Bless America” at the start of the fourth quarter is embedded in this post.

In other words, when he knew his microphone was on, Nantz just wanted “to be fair here” by noting Rivers and several other Chargers placed “hands over their heart” during a patriotic song, when, based off his hot mic commentary, he doesn’t exactly have an unbiased perspective on the matter. This is the definition of doming something just “as long as they have cameras right up to their face.”

For players like Stills and Thomas, this should only reinforce their desire to keep kneeling for the national anthem. There are plenty of people who would rather end the conversation than engage in it.

And far it be it from Nantz to ever do anything for attention. It’s not like he ever sought out a Final Four hero to make sure he properly celebrated winning a championship with a Nantz necktie or anything.

Can Colin Kaepernick help San Francisco? Plus: Week 6 picks

Subscribe to Grandstanding • iTunesStitcherSoundcloud

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next