The Steelers are in Chicago today to take on the Bears, and the game itself (as with all of today’s NFL games) is taking a bit of a backseat to the expected protests before each contest in the wake of Donald Trump’s widespread and vulgar criticism of NFL players.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told CBS reporter Jamie Erdahl his team plans to protest by skipping the anthem entirely:
— Jamie Erdahl (@JamieErdahl) September 24, 2017
Tomlin talked about the decision:
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 24, 2017
Chicago media don’t have a sense of what the Bears will do, but considering head coach John Fox has said in the past that he expects all players on the team to stand for the anthem, but that it’s not a mandated policy.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) September 24, 2017
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 24, 2017
The Bears did release a statement, which said, well, nothing at all, really:
Statement from Chicago Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey. pic.twitter.com/36u9aboXOO
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 24, 2017
The Bears and Steelers are set for a 1 PM kick, so stay tuned for that.
Meanwhile, the Steelers seem to be standing in stark contrast to a fellow Pittsburgh franchise, as the Penguins announced they will be following through with their upcoming White House visit despite all that’s happened:
The Penguins issued a statement regarding their upcoming visit to the White House: pic.twitter.com/qDMbQbXBkP
— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) September 24, 2017
Watching teams struggle to navigate these particular waters is fascinating, and a predictable outcome given the volatile nature of the current White House. (That’s an apolitical diagnosis; no matter your political leanings, it’s hard to argue that no one knows what story is going to break at any given time.)
We don’t yet know if any other NFL teams will adopt the Steelers strategy, of course, but that is entirely possible. Pittsburgh at Chicago is in one of the bigger CBS windows, too, for the early slate of games, so there will be a fairly large audience.
Whether the broadcast dives deep into it also remains to be seen.