Super Bowl opens with protest-free anthem, but fans still divided

Super Bowl Sunday turned out to be a bye week for on-field protests, with none of the players kneeling or raising a fist during the national anthem, allowing the NFL’s biggest day to unfold without the season’s most polarizing issue at center stage. The absence of protests before the game pleased some fans, who either saw the kneeling players as being disrespectful to the flag and the military, or were simply sick of the season-long rancor over the protests over racial injustice. “I’m glad they stood for the anthem. It’s not appropriate,” said Kelly Erickson, an Eagles fan from Philadelphia who watched the singer Pink perform the Star Spangled banner without incident at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. President Donald Trump, for one, has been a harsh critic of the pre-game gesture, heaping scorn on the protesting players and the league for allowing them to go unpunished. But demonstrators who gathered outside the stadium had hoped some players would carry on with protests that began in 2016 with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and were joined by dozens of players around the league this season. “All eyes are here,” said Mel Reeves, a Minneapolis civil rights activist who organized a two-day “Take a Knee” conference that culminated in the rally. “When the players are doing it, people have to pay attention to the issue.” The wave of protests started to fizzle late in the season when the National Football League said it would donate $89 million over seven years… [Read full story]


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