Saxophonist Mike Phillips performs National Anthem at Lions / Vikings Thanksgiving game

Mike Phillips

Thanksgiving Day football has long been known for big performances, and that includes the National Anthem. It’s a big tradition that’s long been shown on TV, but there is no doubt that things are different now. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is under more scrutiny than ever before thanks to player protests, and we have wondered if this has made more performers hesitant to perform during it in order to avoid a possible political minefield. What we can tell you is that the Detroit Lions – Minnesota Vikings game is featuring a performance by saxophonist Mike Phillips – no singer this year.

Phillips is a man who has performed the anthem in a wide array of places, and he takes the song seriously while trying to inject his own brand of creativity and passion into it. Speaking on that subject in a new interview with The Undefeated, Phillips had the following to say:

“Creatively, I’m putting everything I can into it … Despite everything that’s gone on in America and all of the issues that are still pending, I can still play the song with the hope of America catching up to the greatness it should be at.”

Phillips is kicking off a big game between two teams that each have enormous playoff aspirations, and this could actually be the most-popular Thanksgiving Day game because of that.

How was the performance?

By and large we’d consider it to be rather great! Phillips of course hit all of the notes, but beyond that gave the Anthem performance some passion and flair. If you love great saxophonists this was probably one of your favorite performances of an Anthem this year — though many of them haven’t been featured on television. It was subdued in one way, but evocative in another and it definitely seemed as though Phillips had most of the crowd on his side.

For those of you interested we didn’t see anyone taking a knee during the Anthem, though it may not have been shown during the Fox broadcast. We certainly do think Anthem protests will be a subject of conversation again this season, but with this being Thanksgiving we’re not altogether surprised that it has taken a back seat for the time being.

What do you think about the National Anthem performance by Mike Phillips tonight? Share some of the comments below!

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