WATCH: Christian Brother, James Brown, Delivers Powerful Plea for Domestic Violence to End, Urges Men to Learn What “Healthy, Respective Manhood is All About”

Given the sobering events surrounding the Baltimore Ravens this week and the unfortunate scheduling of those very same Ravens on the inaugural broadcast of Thursday Night Football, CBS wisely toned down its pregame show on Thursday, devoting the first 25 minutes to a news-based recap and analysis of the Ray Rice situation.

Gone was the planned Rihanna intro, replaced with live reports from NFL headquarters by former New York Times reporter Judy Battista. Instead of a comedy bit, Norah O’Donnell sat with host James Brown for a recap of her Tuesday interview with embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

In a tough situation, CBS captured the right tone. That was due, in large part, to the presence of Brown. Under the guidance of other NFL studio personalities, a pregame show that segued from domestic violence to passing games could have quickly turned into a farce. With Brown’s gravitas, CBS was able to straddle both the serious and frivolous aspects of the evening’s game.

At the end of the segments on Rice, Brown spoke directly to the camera and delivered a plea to viewers. He asked that all the energy given to the Rice controversy be channeled to raising awareness of domestic violence. With so much attention paid to who saw the elevator video and when they saw it, Brown’s words were a needed reminder that this is about something far bigger.

Two years ago, Brown made a similar plea after Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, then committed suicide in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium. On Thursday, Brown pleaded for men to learn what “healthy, respective manhood is all about,” beginning with choices of language and deeds. “Our silence is deafening and deadly,” Brown said at the end of the powerful 90-second soliloquy.

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