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With the deadly and heartbreaking event that unfolded this week at our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., discussing it during the Washington Football TeamTampa Bay game being broadcast just miles away was unavoidable. To NBC’s credit, the network didn’t wait long as Mike Tirico addressed it early in the game, delivering a succinct and sobering summary on one of the darkest days in American history while ending with a hopeful thought for the future.  

Washington Football Team’s season of incredible adversity 

In addition to dealing with the pandemic like the rest of the NFL this year, the Washington Football Team has had to overcome a whole other set of challenges this season starting with the team name. After years of resistance to divorcing the organization’s name from the racial slur, team owner Daniel Snyder relented to pressure and the threat of losing millions of dollars from sponsors, agreeing to the name change in July.  

Just days later, the Washington Post published an extensive story that included accusations from a dozen women within the Washington Football Team organization, charging numerous employees with sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Several employees, including the team’s longtime radio voice, Larry Michael, left the club. 

A month later, new head coach Ron Rivera revealed he had lymph node cancer. It was one unwelcome event after another. And the pandemic raged

Massive pro-Trump mob storms Capitol, killing five

This week, as the Washington Football Team prepared for its first playoff appearance since 2015, sports in the nation’s capital promptly took a back seat midweek following the horrific events that took place at the U.S. Capitol. 

On Wednesday, a large group of pro-Trump supporters gathered and listened to the President air his grievances on a stolen election, a false claim often repeated by the incumbent since he lost to Joe Biden in the November election. Trump concluded the rally by encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol and let Congress know how they feel.

And that’s when all hell broke loose as a riotous mob mobilized and stormed the Capitol, overpowering law enforcement officials and entering the halls of Congress, interrupting the process of certifying the election, and sending Senators and Representatives running for their lives. 

Tragically, five people died, including one Capitol Police officer, while more than 50 officers were injured. The insurrection was undoubtedly one of the darkest days in American history.

Mike Tirico delivers sobering statement during Washington Football Team playoff game

The wild-card game with the Washington Football Team hosting Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided a much-needed distraction from the week’s tragic events in the nation’s capital. However, due to the game’s close proximity, NBC recognized it would be negligent if it didn’t mention what happened. 

Just past the halfway point of the first quarter, the playoff broadcast returned from a commercial break with a live image of the brightly lit Capitol building in the foreground set against the backdrop of a dark night sky. Mike Tirico delivered a sobering statement on the week’s events.

“A live look at the U.S. Capitol dome standing sentinel tonight over our nation’s capital as it has every night for over a century and a half,” Tirico said. “The site again this Wednesday of another chapter in American history invaded by violent riotous protestors by day and democracy continuing a few hours later with the presidential election results confirmed.”

The image shifted to an overhead shot of Washington’s stadium, FedExField in Landover, Maryland.

“The Capitol is just 10 miles west of here,” Tirico continued. “We gather for a game that oftentimes provides that respite from reality and so many around our country, hoping our true reality is calmer and more civil in the days ahead.”

It was a poignant moment by Tirico that closed with a hopeful thought for the future. And right now, we need all the hope we can get.

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