NFL, other sports recognize 10th anniversary of Sept. 11
NEW YORK From coast to coast, American flags as large as football fields were unfurled inside stadiums and fans of all ages sang the national anthem with gusto Sunday in a red-white-and-blue observance marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and start of the country’s most popular sport: the NFL.
Robin Berretta, wearing a blue Giants No. 27 Brandon Jacobs jersey, traveled from New York to Landover, Md., for the game at the Washington Redskins. Some of her friends suggested she shouldn’t attend.
“Everyone’s very paranoid,” Berretta said. “And they’re not even from New York.”
She was unfazed, saying, “I even took the Metro.”
In presentations relayed to video screens around the league, “Taps” was played from Shanksville, Pa., where one of the hijacked jets crashed a decade earlier, and Arlington National Cemetery. A recorded message from actor Robert DeNiro was broadcast on videoboards reminding fans that “we honor those brave men and women by continuing to show our unity and strength as a country.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell marked the day in Landover, where he spoke to FOX from the sidelines of the Giants-Redskins game.
“We remember our great country and the people that died in this tragic incident, the first responders and their families and all the people that kept our country safe,” he said. “This is a chance for everyone to come together and feel great about our country, the sacrifices so many people have had and what we all have in front of us. We’ve got a lot to be proud of.”
Former President George W. Bush praised the rescue workers of that day in a televised pregame show segment prior to the openers.
Before the start of the U.S. Open’s women’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a “9/11/01” logo was painted next to the blue court, and Queen Latifah and the Jubilation Choir performed a soulful rendition of the anthem. The Marine Corps color guard unfurled a court-sized flag.
Before her match against Australia’s Sam Stosur, Serena Williams tweeted:
“My Thoughts and prayers to all who lost loved ones on 9-11. I know the entire country is with you today. I’m playing for you today.”
Pregame ceremonies were followed by moments of silence at Major League Baseball parks.
At the Nationals game in Washington, two red, white and blue logos were painted on the field in foul territory along the base lines, with the date “September 11, 2001” and the words: “We shall not forget.” The Nationals also wore blue jerseys with a stars-and-stripes background for the team’s ‘W’ logo.
“Frankly, I was a little bit skittish with regard to coming out to a ballpark and large gathering of people with feelings of how scared we were 10 years ago,” said Joe Bailey, a 40-year-old fan from Bethesda, Md. “I think as part of our resolve, it’s to go ahead and continue on in the American way and do what we do, and one of those things is to be passionate about baseball.”
In Anaheim, Calif., Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees caught ceremonial first pitches from two first responders and a survivor of the attacks.
“I wish we were at home with the people of New York,” Posada said.
At sun-splashed Soldier Field in Chicago, fans applauded the national anthem from start to finish—a tradition at NHL Blackhawks games—while tenor Jim Cornelison sang an unusually spirited anthem before the Bears hosted the Atlanta Falcons.
The ceremonies coincided with the regular-season return of the NFL following a summer of labor strife that threatened to stop play for the first time since 1987. The league planned to auction game-used items and donate $1 million to three memorials and two charities related to the attacks. The balls used for the kickoff of each half were inscribed with special 9-11 logos.