In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, CBS has thought better of opening tonight’s pregame show in Baltimore with a feature including a song by one of America’s most prominent survivors of domestic violence.
CBS Sports officials told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated that they will no longer use a planned opening segment featuring Rihanna’s “Run This Town.” Rihanna, like Janay Rice, was the victim in a high-profile domestic violence case.
Instead, CBS will begin the pregame show with a report from Norah O’Donnell, who interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday.
This was not the way CBS expected to open its coveted Thursday Night Football programming, but CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Deitsch that the Rice case is simply too big not to be the focal point of tonight’s game in Baltimore.
“It’s important to realize we are not overreacting to this story but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” said McManus. “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.”
This story has done something that few off-field stories in NFL history have managed to do: It has overshadowed the game. CBS has a tall order juggling the need to address that story with the need to satisfy fans who tune in to watch a football game.