CBS decided to make several changes to their planned programming for their first “Thursday Night Football” game of the season in light of the Ray Rice incident, and the most notable change includes removing the song featuring Rihanna from the intro.
Rihanna, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, was the victim of domestic violence committed by ex-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009. Rihanna then infamously went back to Brown, who pleaded guilty to felony assault.
Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” featuring Rihanna was scheduled to play as the intro song, with actor Don Cheadle providing a voiceover narration setting the scene for kickoff. CBS also had a comedic bit planned but decided to scrap it, according to SI’s Richard Deitsch.
Deitsch says CBS will open “with a report from CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell, who interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday. O’Donnell will be on the set in Baltimore with Thursday Night pregame host James Brown.”
The NFL sent out a press release last week detailing the plans for each “Thursday Night Football” pregame show.
The Thursday Night Football open will be accompanied by the narration of Academy Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle. Cheadle’s narration sets the scene to kick off the NFL week on Thursday nights, highlighting the division rivalry games. And, asking the question, who will “Run This Town”?
Thursday Night Football will feature a customized open each week highlighting the teams and storylines. Featuring Cheadle’s narration with music sung by Rihanna, the open matches the size and drama of each Thursday night game. This open, which was filmed in an airplane hangar, was produced and directed by 28-time Emmy Award-winning producer Pete Radovich, who serves as CBS Sports’ creative director.
This was a smart move by CBS. Given the context of this week’s events, this is the appropriate way to handle things.