Rihanna has been tapped to be the opening act for Thursday night’s opening NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens…
UPDATE: Sept. 11, 5:20 p.m. CBS has changed its Thursday night pregame lineup, dropping an opening song from Rihanna, Sports Illustrated is reporting. CBS Sports officials told SI that due to the Ray Rice news, that has broken in the past few days, they will not be opening the game with Rihanna’s “Run This Town,” nor will they be featuring Don Cheadle’s narration. They also have dropped a comedy segment that was set to air.
Instead, CBS will open the coverage with a report about Rice from CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell.
“It’s important to realize we are not overacting to this story but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus tells SI.com. “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone.”
It has not been confirmed if Rihanna’s song was pulled just from this game or will not be used during any Thursday night games in the season.
A pre-recorded Rihanna performance will open Thursday night’s NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.
If the macabre irony of that statement hasn’t caught up to you yet, here’s the rundown:
The NFL has been facing serious backlash after its lenient sanctions against former Ravens player Ray Rice. Rice was only recently cut from the team after more video footage surfaced of him attacking then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also, belatedly, just suspended the running back indefinitely.
For his part, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was the first player the NFL suspended under its personal-conduct policy, according to the Baltimore Sun. He was suspended for four games in 2010 when he was accused of sexually assaulting a college student.
Rihanna has experienced domestic abuse. In 2009, the singer’s then-boyfriendChris Brown assaulted her (he pleaded guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to five years probation). Pictures of Rihanna’s injuries were plastered across the Internet — much like the Rice/Palmer video — and she quickly became a public symbol for victims of domestic violence.
This season’s anthem for Thursday night football will be a version of Rihanna and Jay Z’s song “Run This Town.” Don Cheadle’s voice will introduce the 16 games.
There have also been murmurs that Rihanna is being considered as a performer for this year’s Superbowl halftime show, which could explain (but not necessarily justify) her burgeoning relationship with a rather tone-deaf NFL. It should also be noted that CBS and the NFL probably (hopefully) signed Rihanna on long before this messy incident occurred — but it’s unfortunate timing nonetheless.
To sum up: WTF.
Rihanna is doing the intro song for tonight’s Ravens/Steelers game b/c the NFL thinks their fans suffer from memory loss, not the players.