NFL Airing Unity Ad During Sunday Night Football As Trump Fuels Controversy Over Protests

'Inside These Lines' spot first ran during February's Super Bowl

The "Inside These Lines" spot originally aired in February, during Super Bowl LI.
YouTube: NFL

After President Trump reignited the controversy over football players who kneel in protest during the National Anthem, the NFL is reportedly reairing a Super Bowl spot about bringing people together, during tonight’s Sunday Night Football game.

The decision was finalized this morning, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter. “We think this is the single best response to demonstrate what we are about,” an NFL spokesman told him. “It stands in stark contrast to some who practice the politics of division.”

The spot will air on NBC tonight, during the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders.

Agency Translation created the spot, called “Inside This Lines,” for February’s Super Bowl LI. The ad shows archival footage of players on the field, playing against and supporting each other, and culminates with a shot of football stadium in which the outline of the 50 U.S. states is incorporated into the field.

In the spot, narrator Forest Whitaker says:

“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination. Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us. Inside these lines, it’s a game of inches, and there’s no such thing as an easy yard when you’re fighting to move forward. Inside these lines, we’re not only defined by our victories, but by the way we handle our defeats. Inside these lines, we can bring out the best in each other, and live united, inside…these lines.”

The message: the diversity on the football field reflects and represents America.

The decision came as Trump spent all weekend speaking out against NFL players who protest by kneeling during the National Anthem. During an Alabama rally on Friday night, he urged NFL owners to take action: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

He continued hammering the NFL yesterday, when he tweeted, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do.”

This morning, Trump still wasn’t done, as he continued tweeting, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” and “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”

This year’s NFL ratings are down marginally from last year overall, but not “WAY DOWN” as Trump claims.

Reaction from the NFL, as well as team owners and players, has been swift and forceful. The Pittsburgh Steelers announced that its team would not come onto the field for today’s game in Chicago until after the national anthem was played, and several other players and teams planned additional forms of protest.

On Twitter, the hashtag #TakeTheKnee has been trending all weekend.