NFL Kicks Off With Dual Anthem Approach, Football Fans Sound Off

by Chris Haney

NFL football is officially back after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys kicked off the season on Thursday night. The game also marked the introduction of the league’s first dual-anthem approach during pre-game ceremonies, and fans had mixed reactions to the NFL’s new all-inclusive pre-game anthem format.

Prior to the opening season game last night, the league showcased two anthems: “Lift Every Voice And Sing” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Civil rights activist James Weldon wrote a poem in 1905 that “Lift Every Voice” is based on.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league are now utilizing the second anthem, which has come to be known as the “Black National Anthem.” The anthem is part of the league’s push to be all-inclusive and to celebrate the numerous Black players and personnel among the league. After protests and civil unrest in the summer of 2020, Goodell announced the inclusion of the second anthem before each future game.

“We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter. … Without Black players there would be no National Football League,” Goodell stated.

“The protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff,” he added.

NFL Fans React to Second Pre-Game Anthem

The NFL and Roger Goodell are trying to be more inclusive with the addition of the second anthem. But not everyone sees it that way since the anthem has left many fans questioning its purpose. Many fans found “Lift Every Voice And Sing” divisive instead of unifying and shared their opinions on Twitter.

In 2016, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a protest movement to bring awareness to police brutality and racism. He started to kneel during the pre-game ceremonies while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in the stadium. Numerous players and NFL personnel followed suit, and NFL fans were left divided on whether or not kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate or not. Now, fans are similarly divided over the new second pre-game anthem.

Numerous NFL fans think “Lift Every Voice And Sing” separates races instead of bringing everyone together.

“I’m sorry but we don’t need a black national anthem. Just for the black community. The national anthem is for everyone. No matter the race or color you are. #NFLKickoff,” another NFL fan tweeted.

Others even question the validity of the song as the “Black National Anthem.”

Of course, many football fans claimed they refused to watch the game after hearing a second anthem.

“Did they just play the ‘Black National Anthem’ to start off the NFL season? Time to change the channel!” one NFL fan wrote.

Another fan agreed, saying he isn’t watching and that he thinks ratings will plummet because of the second anthem.

In contrast, many other fans were happy to hear the song and have it recognized by the NFL.

“The #NFL just killed it with the black national anthem!” one happy fan proclaimed on Twitter.

Finally, some called out those that disagreed with the song’s inclusion instead of being more supportive for the additional anthem.

The inclusion of “Lift Every Voice And Sing” has definitely garnered mixed reactions from fans. It looks like we may have another polarizing subject involving the NFL for the 2021-22 season.