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ABC thinks NFL anthem protests are too hot a topic for a sitcom

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: An American flag is unfurled during the national anthem prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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The ABC sitcom Black-ish has never shied away from hot-button political topics. But NFL anthem protests are apparently a bridge too far.

Kenya Barris, the creator of Black-ish, confirmed that ABC declined to run an episode of the show that included characters arguing over football players kneeling for the national anthem. The episode was set to run on February 27 but was replaced with a rerun, and ABC has no plans to air the episode or make it available on any other platform.

“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” Barris told Variety. “‘Black-ish’ is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community and I’m so proud of the series.”

There’s been no indication that the NFL leaned on Disney (which owns ABC and ESPN) not to air the show, although Disney has been accused of kowtowing to the NFL in the past. In 2013, a report that the NFL pressured ESPN to pull out of a PBS Frontline show about concussions was denied by the NFL. In 2003, the NFL convinced ESPN to cancel the entertainment show Playmakers, which depicted professional football players engaged in illegal activities.

Six months ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL needs to move past the anthem issue. Six months later, this latest controversy shows the country has still not moved past it.