CBS decided to drop a segment featuring a song by pop star Rihanna from its Thursday Night Football coverage, in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal.
The segment was to feature a performance of “Run This Town,” and a voiceover from actor Don Cheadle. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated: “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.”
In place of the segment, the network instead opened its pregame show with a report from “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell, who interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell shortly after the latest Rice video surfaced. The Baltimore Ravens, the team for which Rice played before being cut by the team Monday, were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the broadcast.
Goodell has faced a barrage of criticism for his handling of the Rice incident, in which a video showed the player striking Janay Palmer, the woman to whom he is now married, and knocking her unconscious during a domestic dispute.
According to McManus, on-air staff will refrain from offering their opinions on the growing calls for Goodell to resign, although he said “we will certainly present all the different points of view,” according to a report in the New York Daily News.
Goodell's initial response to the incident was a two-game suspension for Rice, which was widely viewed as unduly lenient considering the brutality of the attack. According to CNN, some critics had questioned the appropriateness of the song being a part of the telecast for a game involving the Baltimore Ravens.
Rihanna was a victim of domestic violence in February 2009, when her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, violently assaulted her while she was a passenger in his car. Brown subsequently pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault and was sentenced to probation, counseling and community service. He has since been beset by various criminal charges, and served a short jail term in 2014.