CBS Asks NFL Announcers to Curb Opinions on Race, Justice


Stick to sports, Tony Romo.

That was the edict handed down by executives to the Cowboys legend and the rest of CBS' on-air talent ahead of their in-game coverage of the NFL's Week 1 this weekend, according to a report.

The network's plan is to have broadcasters address anything that unfolds on the field as they would have in prior seasons, regardless of the topic -- but opinionated non-sequiturs aren't welcome, Forbes reported.

That means anything related to player protests or statements that take place during that game is fair play, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus reportedly said on conference call.

“They’re certainly allowed to talk about what is happening on the field, whether it’s the National Anthem or something else with a name or a phrase on a player’s jersey or on his shoes,” McManus said. “They’re free to talk about that, but we’re going to do so objectively. They’re not going to interject their opinion or their philosophy. They’re there to cover the game. But if something else happens to be part of the story, they’re going to tell that story.

“Our announcers on site at the games are not going to condone, they’re not going to condemn what’s going on. They’re going to report it, and they’re going to move on.”

Instead, the network plans to air the bulk of its coverage on these issues during is pregame shows, the article said.

Those programs, collectively branded as The NFL Today, will include segments with players, coaches, and owners on social justice issues and the situation in the US, according to the report.

McManus said it was a delicate balancing act to provide programming for fans who aren't interested in such matters.

"We need to make sure that we don’t overdo the emphasis on what’s going on in our country, but we’re not going to ignore it," he said.

The fan response to player activism appeared to be decidedly mixed at best in Thursday's season-opener in Kansas City, where some of the 17,000 fans on hand at rainy Arrowhead Stadium rained boos down on Chiefs and Texans players when they locked arms at midfield in a display of unity after skipping the playing of the national anthem.

Legendary NBC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels came under some criticism for what some called sidestepping issues of race and social justice after a tumultuous and unprecedented offseason for the league and the country.

CBS' top NFL team of Romo, play-by-play man Jim Nantz, and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson were set to call Cam Newton's Patriots debut when New England hosts the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

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