The 74-year-old, Grammy-winning singer delivered a powerful, emotional and respectful version of the Star Spangled Banner to her hometown in the prelude to Super Bowl LIII.
In a Super Bowl that has been plagued by political controversy swirling around its halftime show, the national anthem drew relatively little pre-game attention, perhaps owing to Knight’s stature as the Empress of Soul. During the song, the cameras avoided showing whether any players were kneeling or doing another form of protest.
Both teams are not known for much political action, although a smattering of players on both teams – notably Rams punter Johnny Hekker and New England defensive back Devon McCourtey (one time) have staged minor protests.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds capped Knight’s performance, flying overhead in a show of might.
Preceding Knight were the Grammy-nominated duo of Chloe and Halle, who sang America The Beautiful.
No players protested during the national anthem at the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston, and only a handful protested during the 2018 regular season, as the NFL took steps to take away the spotlight by not enforcing rules, aided by the cooperation of the networks televising the games, who rarely showed the anthem.