Ray Rice video: Rihanna opening segment pulled from NFL Thursday Night Football programme because of domestic violence connection

The Barbadian singer was the victim – not the perpetrator – of abuse ahead of the Grammys in 2009, after Chris Brown attacked her

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The Independent Online

There have been some questionable decisions made in the world of NFL recently – not least over whether the sports organisation’s initial action against Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice when it first learned he had publicly beaten his then-fiancée (now wife) was tough enough.

He had received a two match suspension and a fine of $550,000 before leaked footage of him knocking his partner Janay Rice unconscious in a lift was published by TMZ. After it went viral, the NFL finally made the decision to ban the player, who was signed to a contract worth $40million, from the pitch indefinitely. Their handling of the entire affair is now being investigated by the FBI.

But eyebrows have since been raised over the coverage of the scandal, too. Most recently after CBS Sports, famed for their Thursday Night Football programme, axed an opening segment featuring Rihanna singing the Jay Z song “Run This Town”, as well as in a comedic sketch, because of her previous connections to domestic violence.

The Barbadian singer was the victim – not the perpetrator – of abuse ahead of the Grammys in 2009, after her then-partner Chris Brown attacked her.

Instead, the show opened with James Brown, the CBS Sports anchor, introducing CBS News presenter Scott Pelley ahead of a summary about the NFL’s investigation over the handling of the Rice case.

Speaking to USA Today, Alex Riethmiller, a representative for the NFL Network, confirmed the change to the introduction, but said it was necessary in order to “make room” for discussion about the Rice video.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told SI.com: “It’s important to realize we are not overeacting to this story, but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL.

“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.”

 

They added that the specially recorded opener featuring Rihanna (alongside Don Cheadle) is expected to be broadcast ahead of the games coverage next week.

The news comes just days after FOX presenter Brian Kilmeade was criticised for offering the following advice to Janay Rice for next time: “Take the stairs.”

Following a brief panel discussion on the leaked video footage, in which Rice can be seen knocking his partner unconscious, he joked after citing the Solange and Jay Z fight: “I think the message is take the stairs.”

The remark was met with laughter from his co-anchors Steve Doocy and Anna Kooiman.

Doocy added: “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”

Unsurprisingly, their seeming flippancy towards the issue of domestic violence sparked a backlash online.

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