Instead of fans glimpsing players kneel for the national anthem, players may witness fans pull a Colin Kaepernick tonight before the Oakland Raiders-Houston Texans game.
The NFL returns to Mexico City for the first time in over a decade on Monday Night Football. And though neither the Texans nor the Raiders feature any national anthem kneelers on their roster, Estadio Azteca overflows with fans who love American football but not necessarily America.
The last time the NFL played in Mexico City, the U.S. president spoke Spanish and sought to give Mexicans living illegally in the United States citizenship. This go around, the United States just elected a president who made building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border a centerpiece of his campaign.
Mexicans boo “The Star Spangled Banner” on U.S. soil, so disrespecting the song in the comfort of the home country, particularly after Colin Kaepernick earned presidential praise and landed on the cover of Time magazine for similarly expressed anti-American contempt, appears so solid a bet as to force the bookies to take it off the board. At soccer games in America between the U.S. and Mexican national teams, the anthem regularly elicits a hostile response. For decades, American boxers facing the likes of Julio Casar Chavez and Canelo Alvarez heard the anthem booed. So, in the wake of Kaepernick and Trump, the boo birds likely fly low again in Mexico City on Monday.
The NFL’s choice of a performer likely mutes the negative response somewhat. Becky G, a 19-year-old Mexican-American pop star, sings “The Star Spangled Banner.” She does not look like someone that any male anywhere has ever booed for any reason. But the passions against America run deeper than other passions.
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“When our national anthem is played, there is a chance we will have 70,000 people booing there,” Monday Night Football executive producer Jay Rothman told Sports Illustrated. “We have gone through many what if’s and if there is any kind of significant demonstration going on, we will not avoid it and report on it in full.”