CBS seemed pretty excited when it announced a new segment that would open each NFL Thursday Night Football game this year with Jay-Z‘s Rihanna-featuring track “Run This Town” and narration by Don Cheadle. But now it has cut the segment seemingly because Rihanna has been a public victim of domestic abuse and that did not set the right “tone” in a game featuring the Pittsburg Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens — suspended running back Ray Rice’s former team.
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After a video of Rice knocking out his then-fiancee earlier this year was posted online by TMZ, accusations of a coverup by the league followed as well as Rice’s release from the Ravens.
CBS Sports officials told Sports Illustrated their format change — which also included cutting a comedic segment — was the result of these developments and instead will open its pre-game show with an interview from Wednesday of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell.
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“It’s important to realize we are not overreacting to this story but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told 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.”
In 2009 Rihanna was the victim of domestic abuse at the hand of her then-boyfriend Chris Brown. Brown was sentenced to five years’ probation and community labor following.