MINNEAPOLIS — When Pink begins singing the national anthem Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium before Super Bowl LII, it’s expected that players from the Patriots and Eagles will stand at attention.
Though player protests during the national anthem became a hot topic during the season — President Donald Trump even suggested that players who took a knee or raised a fist during the anthem be fired — there have been no on-field protests since the playoffs began on Jan. 6.
Given the Super Bowl’s international audience, anything is possible on Sunday. NBC executive producer Fred Gaudelli said his network’s telecast has a plan in place if someone takes a knee.
“When you’re doing a live event, you just cover what’s happening,” he said. “We’re obviously here to cover a football game, not a politicized event.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins along with now retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin formed the players coalition which eventually led to a drop in the number of protests.
Jenkins had been raising a fist during the anthem until December, when the NFL announced it would donate more than $90 million to charitable causes dealing with social issues.
There is no NFL rule that forces players to stand for the anthem. Although some critics of protests during the national anthem want a mandate in place, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there are no expectations of that happening.
The movement began last season when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem to raise awareness of social issues such as police brutality.
“We’re both trying to get some things done,” Jenkins said. “Everything that’s been accomplished couldn’t be done without the sacrifice that Colin did. To being able to step up on that platform really opened the eyes of his peers, especially me, and showed me what kind of impact I could have, and he’s been an inspiration to a lot of people.”