Gladys Knight sings anthem

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FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2018 file photo, Gladys Knight arrives at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at this year's Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2018 file photo, Gladys Knight arrives at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at this year's Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Gladys Knight on why she’ll sing the anthem at Super Bowl

Friday, February 1

ATLANTA (AP) — Gladys Knight says her singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl will bring people together.

NBC’s “Today” show reported Friday that Knight wrestled with whether to join a boycott over the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.

Kaepernick attorney Mark Geragos said the performers are “crossing an intellectual picket line; they’re saying to themselves, ‘I care more about my career than whether what I’m doing is right.’”

Knight said she’s been working for civil rights and singing the anthem since she was a little girl.

Knight says everyone has an opinion, “but once we get into that love thing, it all comes together and goes wherever and we end up clapping and having a good time.”

Cardi B declined Super Bowl halftime with ‘mixed feelings’


AP Entertainment Writer

Saturday, February 2

ATLANTA (AP) — Cardi B said she received an offer to perform at the Super Bowl, but struggled with the decision to turn down the lucrative opportunity in support of ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The Grammy-nominated rapper told The Associated Press on Friday evening that she had “mixed feelings” after she declined to take the stage at Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. She said it was a hard decision since her husband, rapper Offset, loves to watch football, but she felt obligated to “stand behind” Kaepernick because he “stood up” for minorities.

“My husband, he loves football. His kids play football. It’s really hard for him. … He really wants to go to the Super Bowl, but he can’t go to the Super Bowl, because he’s got to stand for something,” said Cardi B, who is nominated for five Grammys. She is competing for both album and record of the year.

“You have to sacrifice that,” she added. “I got to sacrifice a lot of money to perform. But there’s a man who sacrificed his job for us, so we got to stand behind him.”

Kaepernick helped start a wave of protests by kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness to police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues. His efforts ignited a political firestorm over whether social justice needs to be addressed at the NFL’s marquee event.

Maroon 5 will be joined by Big Boi of Outkast and rapper Travis Scott at halftime of the game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots on Sunday. Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem.

Some, including Rihanna and Pink, have reportedly turned down offers to perform during this year’s halftime. In a recent song, Jay-Z alluded to declining to perform at the Super Bowl, and Amy Schumer refused to appear in a TV ad during the game.

Last year, Cardi B said she wouldn’t take the Super Bowl stage until Kaepernick gets a job. With Kaepernick still without a team, she is standing by her words, but will perform at a downtown concert Saturday. She is hosting a party this week and will also appear in a Super Bowl commercial.

Cardi B heard the criticism toward her and other music artists for taking part in Super Bowl-related events. But she believes she can perform at those events outside the championship game without directly supporting the NFL.

“I hear people saying like ‘Oh, y’all are saying all this stuff about the Super Bowl, but you’re doing all these parties,’” she said. “And it’s like, well, if the NFL could benefit off from us, then I’m going to benefit off y’all. Y’all make the most money off our people. Why am I not going to take advantage of y’all and take money from y’all too? Because of y’all, we are getting these parties. OK, thank you.”

Cardi B hopes the protests supporting Kaepernick can create positive change in the world, but she’s not sure if that will happen anytime soon.

“We got an arrogant president, and the racism right now has been reborn,” she said. “They feel mighty brave nowadays. When Obama was around, I just feel like they were praying on the day when his eight years was over. A lot of jealousy.”

Cardi B added: “When they see (how) the choices they made due to racism has affected the country, that’s when things are going to start changing. Right now, they don’t want to accept that their decision has affected the country.”

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter:

The Conversation

Super Bowl LIII and the soul of Atlanta

February 1, 2019

Author: Derrick P. Alridge, Professor of Education, University of Virginia

Disclosure statement: Derrick P. Alridge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: University of Virginia provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

As a historian who studies W.E.B. Du Bois – and as someone who once lived in nearby Athens, Georgia – I’m struck by the significance of Atlanta hosting the Super Bowl at this moment in the country’s history.

When Du Bois lived in Atlanta in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a place of both opportunity and peril for blacks. During the civil rights era, it headquartered the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, while serving as a base for black student activism. Today, many view it as America’s “Black Mecca.” It has a solid black middle and upper class, possesses a vibrant soul and hip-hop music scene and serves as a base of black political power.

Atlanta hosting the Super Bowl, however, creates an undeniable paradox.

Over the past few seasons, the NFL has found itself grappling with the issue of whether to allow its players to protest the killings of unarmed black men and women by kneeling during the national anthem. The league has made clear that it doesn’t support players’ right to protest, and many of the Americans who cheer for these players every Sunday object to those same players standing up against the racial inequalities that persist in American life.

While much of the focus of Sunday’s game will be on the pageantry and competition, I think it’s worth reflecting on how Atlanta evolved into the city it is today, the forces that threaten its progress, and how hosting the Super Bowl symbolizes this tension.

Two Atlantas, two warring ideals

In 1897, Du Bois came to Atlanta to establish a center of social scientific research at Atlanta University. During this time in Du Bois’ life, Atlanta was ground zero for America’s racial tensions. It was strictly segregated and subject to Jim Crow laws, and 241 blacks were lynched in Georgia between 1888 and 1903.

In 1899, Du Bois lost his infant son, Burghardt, to diphtheria, a bacterial infection. Du Bois believed Burghardt died from a lack of prompt treatment because white doctors in Atlanta would not treat black patients. That same year, a black man named Sam Hose was brutally lynched in nearby Newnan, Georgia, after being accused of raping a white woman.

These two events tremendously influenced Du Bois, his relationship with Atlanta, and his understanding of race in America. In 1903, he published “The Souls of Black Folk,” in which he declared, “the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.”

Du Bois foresaw a future in which black Americans would endure the “psychic tension” of living in a society that encouraged them to be Americans yet condemned them to second-class citizenship.

“One ever feels his two-ness,” he wrote, “an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Following the book’s publication, Du Bois continued to face challenges in Atlanta. In 1906, riots broke out after a local paper published rumors of black men raping white women. In response, Du Bois penned the poem “A Litany of Atlanta,” petitioning God for understanding and intervention.

“A city lay in travail, God our Lord, and from her loins sprang twin Murder and Black Hate,” he wrote.

Despite his grief, Du Bois held out hope that Atlanta, the “city of a hundred hills,” could become a beacon of greater democracy.

Of Atalanta and golden apples

In “The Souls of Black Folk,” Du Bois also draws on Greek mythology to recount the legend of the “winged maiden” Atalanta, who, disinclined to marry, says she will only marry a man who can beat her in a foot race. When a suitor, Hippomenes, challenges Atalanta, he lures her off course with three golden apples. Atalanta’s greed costs her the race and she is forced to marry Hippomenes.

The story is a cautionary one. For Du Bois, Atlanta had the potential to be a great city. But if it worshiped materialism and chased wealth, it too would suffer the curse of Atalanta. Instead of reaching for golden apples, Du Bois encouraged Atlanta to establish and support universities that promote democratic ideals of “truth,” “freedom” and “broad humanity,” while striving to “Teach thinkers to think.”

In many ways, Atlanta has lived up to Du Bois’ dreams for the city. Today, it is home to the vibrant Atlanta University Center Consortium, which comprises Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse, Spelman and Morehouse School of Medicine; Atlanta, along with Washington, D.C., is considered by Forbes as the best U.S. city economically for blacks; and Keisha Lance Bottoms serves as the city’s seventh consecutive black mayor.

Yet, as historian Maurice Hobson has pointed out, Atlanta also has a large percentage of its black population living in poverty. At certain points over the past five years, 80 percent of black children in Atlanta resided in poverty-ridden communities and unemployment among blacks has been as high as 22 percent.

There is still work to be done, and golden apples can be tempting. According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Super Bowl will reportedly have a US$400 million economic impact on the city. While attracting revenue can be beneficial, the city has already lost of some its legacy as a result of development.

In fact, the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be held, sits on the grounds of the historic Friendship and Mount Vernon Baptist churches – a symbol of how the forces of development can silence history and wipe out communities.

What to watch for

Du Bois’ ideas in “The Souls of Black Folk” provide a framework for understanding the complexities of the Super Bowl taking place in Atlanta.

While black players are lauded for their on-field accomplishments, the harsh criticism they receive for peacefully protesting racial inequality creates the double consciousness Du Bois so eloquently described. It raises, again, a question Du Bois famously posed: “How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.”

Will the Super Bowl organizers showcase Atlanta’s civil rights history, or gloss over it? Will they bring attention to the city’s rich legacy of peacefully protesting racial injustice? I’m not getting my hopes up.

As I watch the halftime show, I will appreciate singer Rihanna’s refusal to participate; I’ll also be thinking about Jay-Z’s decision not to perform at last year’s Super Bowl, reportedly in support of players’ peaceful protests.

Despite the paradox of hosting the Super Bowl, the city does seem to understand that this is an important opportunity to provide the nation with a teachable moment.

Last year, city officials launched an initiative to paint murals around the city to commemorate the civil rights movement in the months leading up to the Super Bowl. In addition, the NAACP and other civil rights groups will hold a protest on the day before the Super Bowl.

I hope that this tradition will continue – that, in the long run, Atlanta will resist the temptation to be enticed by Hippomenes’ golden apples, that it will bring attention to racial injustices by advocating for “truth,” “freedom” and “humanity.”

Opinion: Yes, America Really Hates Patriots Nation. And New Englanders Love It.

By Michael Graham

No, it’s not #FakeNews: America really hates the New England Patriots and want them to lose in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

In the SB Nation’s FanPulse poll this week, 75 percent of Americans say they want the Pats to lose to the Los Angeles Rams.

In a recent Scott Rasmussen poll 61 percent of Americans are rooting for the Rams, but more than half of those (51%) admit they don’t really care about LA, they’re really pulling for a Patriots loss.

The Pats are the most hated team in 13 states, far more than any other NFL franchise, according to a statistical analysis of Twitter content. The list includes states like New York and Florida –home of division rivals the Jets and the Dolphins — but also, inexplicably, Alaska and Hawaii.

A producer at a Pittsburgh, PA TV station got himself fired when he put the chyron message “Known Cheater” under an image of Patriot’s legendary QB Tom Brady.

In a nation hopelessly divided over everything from the Trump presidency to a video of some Catholic school boys at a DC protest, the one thing that brings Americans together is their collective contempt of Team Tom Brady.

And Patriots fans couldn’t be happier about it.

“Are you kiddin’ me? ‘Hate’ is the new ‘love,’” says longtime Boston sports fan and comic Lenny Clarke. “After all those years of suffering when the Yankees were on top of the world, I love it!”

Clarke, best known for his role as Uncle Teddy on the TV show Rescue Me, is reveling in the negative press for his beloved Pats. “You say 75 percent want us to lose? I want to get that up to 95 percent! They hate us because they ain’t us,” Clarke says.

And he’s not alone. Well-known Boston sports radio personality John Dennis says Boston fans see the national resentment as “a tremendous badge of honor that only outstanding teams like the Celtics in their glory days have enjoyed. We’re up there with the Montreal Canadiens in hockey and baseball’s New York Yankees. Rarified athletic company indeed,” Dennis said.

Even a notoriously easygoing politician like Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has embraced New England’s place as the Team America Loves To Hate. “Sadly I am old enough to remember the days when no one was afraid of playing the Patriots so I have no sympathy for all the haters out there,” the Massachusetts Republican told InsideSources.

This is a recurring theme among New England sports fans: Sure, things are great today, but we remember when…

As in when the Red Sox went 86 years without winning a World Series (Clarke appeared in the Farrelly Brothers rom-com “Fever Pitch” that celebrated the misery of lifelong Sox fans).

As in the decade of the ’90s, when the Celtics had eight losing seasons in a row.

As in the year 1990 when the Patriots went 1–15. In fact, in one five year stretch, 1989-1994, the Patriots record was a dismal 19-61.

Compare that to the glories of the Belichick/Brady era today: Winning 16 AFC East titles in 18 seasons since 2001, without a losing season in between. The record for most Super Bowls reached (nine) and won (five) by a head coach–quarterback tandem,

And, in the opinion of most Americans, soon to be six Super Bowl rings. Because the same polls that found most Americans hope Tom Brady loses also found that, by a two-to-one margin, they expect the Patriots to win.

From sports to academia to the arts to politics (Since 1952, Massachusetts has produced more major-party presidential nominees than any other state) New Englanders expect to have an outsized impact on the country and its culture. And with that impact comes backlash. New Englanders have come to expect it.

Clarke, who’s in Atlanta for the Super Bowl, says the resentment of the Patriots has even overwhelmed the local southern charm. “Everywhere I’ve been–the airport, the hotel, at restaurants–people are letting me know they want the Pats to lose. I’ve got waiters who are blowing their tips to express there hate. It’s unreal!”

“New Englanders don’t care what others think of them,” says veteran Boston Herald sports columnist Bill Speros, better known by his Twitter handle “Obnoxious Boston Fan.”

“They told King George III to go (expletive) himself 244 years ago. Roger Goodell and his flunkies are small potatoes.”


Michael Graham is political editor of InsideSources and NH Journal. He’s also a CBS News contributor. You can reach him at

Trump says he wouldn’t steer son Barron toward football

Monday, February 4

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump says he wouldn’t steer son Barron toward football, saying it’s “a dangerous sport,” but also wouldn’t stand in the way if the soccer-playing 12-year-old wanted to put on pads.

The NFL fan tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview taped before the Super Bowl that football is “really tough.”

He says equipment, including helmets, has improved “but it hasn’t solved the problem.”

Trump thinks the NFL “is a great product.” But as for Barron playing, the president calls it a “very tough question.”

“If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t.”

The president says many people, “including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly.”

Trump has, in the past, bemoaned that football games have become less violent. The NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players.

“They’re ruining the game,” he said during a rally in Alabama in September 2017.

He said players were being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

President Barack Obama, the father of two daughters, said in a 2013 interview with the New Republic that he would “have to think long and hard” before letting a son, if he had one, play football because of the risk of head injuries.

Obama also said football may need to change to prevent injuries.

Strong field of DBs and OLs for Hall of Fame election


AP Pro Football Writer

Saturday, February 2

ATLANTA (AP) — In the past decade, four defensive backs from the modern era have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, five of them are up for consideration.

Cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Ed Reed are in their first year of eligibility. Cornerback Ty Law and safeties John Lynch and Steve Atwater each have been this route before and fallen short.

There are 26 defensive backs in the Canton shrine, not a particularly high number; 26 quarterbacks are in the hall, and only one of them is on the field at a time — OK, the Saints sometimes go with two. Most defenses have at least four DBs out there at a time, and more often these days there are five or six.

So the relative shortage of coverage guys and bone-shattering tacklers from the secondary could get addressed this year.

“Man, just a playmaker,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta says of Reed, who was a five-time All-Pro, won a Super Bowl for the 2012 season, made the All-Decade team of the 2000s, and was the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Ed just always had a great knack for making a critical play in a critical situation. He was a finisher. He was a guy that when the lights were on, he was going to make the play.”

DeCosta recalls a game against Washington:

“I’ll never forget that night game when he blocked the punt, recovered the fumble and basically, singlehandedly, won that game for us. He just had a flare for making the best play of the game.”

Reed’s fellow newcomer to the process, Bailey, starred for the Redskins for five seasons, then for another 10 with Denver. A three-time All-Pro who also made the 2000s All-Decade squad, he had 52 interceptions and was a lockdown cornerback for most of his career. Bailey also played some offense and returned punts.

“I just loved to play. That’s why I did so much,” he says. “I love to do it, it wasn’t because I was good at it. A lot of guys are good at it, but they hate putting in the work. That’s what I love to do.

“When I went to college, it was the same thing. When I got to NFL, I wanted to do everything. I did as much as I could, as long as I could, and as long as they allowed me. Then once I got a little older, I got a little smarter and realized that I shouldn’t be doing all of this stuff. But it’s football and I miss the game.”

Lynch was the bulwark of the Tampa 2 defense for the Buccaneers and then the Broncos, winning a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. Law also won rings, getting three with New England, and had 53 interceptions. Atwater, as fierce a hitter as the safety position has seen, won two Super Bowls with the Broncos.

There is a definite Denver flavor to this year’s class, with team owner Pat Bowlen on the ballot as a contributor. The other contributors’ category nominee is long-time Cowboys and league executive Gil Brandt, and the senior candidate is former Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson. They are considered separately from the modern-era guys.

Along with DB, the offensive line is loaded with contenders, featuring center Kevin Mawae, tackles Steve Hutchinson and Tony Boselli, and guard Alan Faneca. All have been finalists before. Mawae, Faneca and Hutchinson also made the All-Decade team of the 2000s, Boselli was voted to the 1990s squad.

The other first-year eligible player in the mix is Tony Gonzalez, who holds most of the NFL’s career records for tight ends.

Wide receiver Issac Bruce, running back Edgerrin James, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and coaches Don Coryell and Tom Flores are the other finalists.

A maximum of five modern-era candidates can make it, and a maximum of eight overall.

Inductions will be on Aug. 3.

For more AP NFL: and

FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2018 file photo, Gladys Knight arrives at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at this year’s Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File) – In this Oct. 9, 2018 file photo, Gladys Knight arrives at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The seven-time Grammy Award-winner will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at this year’s Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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