One-time abuse victim Rihanna’s introduction to the Thursday Night Football special was yanked at the last minute on Thursday and replaced with an interview with embattled league commissioner Roger Goodell amid the sport’s ongoing domestic violence drama.
Rihanna’s Jay Z collaboration “Run This Town” was billed as part of the launch of the 2014 season of the CBS show, but network bosses decided the program should open with a more serious message following the recent Ray Rice scandal.
Rice was arrested earlier this year following an altercation with his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sickening footage of the incident has since been released and earlier this month the sportsman was kicked off the Baltimore Ravens roster and banned from playing in the National Football League (NFL).
Goodell came under fire from the media and women’s rights groups for not acting sooner in dealing with Rice, amid accusations he and NFL bosses don’t take domestic violence seriously enough.
The commissioner has since spoken out about the scandal, dismissing reports that suggested the footage of Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious was made available to NFL executives in April, and his exclusive interview with CBS newswoman Norah O’Donnell was replayed at the beginning of the Thursday night football coverage, as well as a chat with Ravens team owner Steve Bisciotti.
As a result, Rihanna’s reworked “Run This Town”, featuring a comedic segment starring Don Cheadle, was axed.
Announcing the decision hours before the big game, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said, “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone coverage.”
Ironically, the featured game was a clash between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rihanna was a victim of abuse in 2009 when her then-boyfriend Chris Brown attacked her during a fight on the eve of the Grammy Awards. The R&B singer is still on probation following his violent actions.