Deaf artists Anjel Piñero, Shaheem Sanchez and Daniel Durant were set to perform ASL during this year’s Super Bowl — but viewers watching the CBS telecast may not have actually seen them on air. That’s according to Oscar winner and Deaf actor Marlee Matlin, who expressed her frustration with the network on social media.
“I am absolutely SHOCKED at CBS for introducing the Deaf performers at today’s pregame #SuperBowl and then not showing even one second (or more) of their performance… as has been tradition for the last 30 years. WHY!?”
Piñero performed “America, The Beautiful,” while Sanchez was tapped for “Lift Every Voice” and Durant was behind the National Anthem. Sanchez was also set to perform the Halftime show by Usher and friends.
Variety has reached out to CBS Sports for comment.
But prior to her post criticizing CBS, Matlin had posted a dedicated link for viewers to a website that the NFL and CBS Sports had set up for viewers to watch the ASL performers at this year’s Super Bowl pre-game and halftime shows. (That site is here.) And indeed, CBS promoted that landing page in association with the National Association of the Deaf, Love Sign and the NFL.
Matlin appeared on Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, performing the National Anthem in ASL alongside Garth Brooks. ASL artists were first seen during the halftime show in 2022.
The absence of visible ASL on the Super Bowl broadcast has been a source of controversy in the past. According to a recent analysis by Axios, “throughout the 32 national anthem performances at the Super Bowl since 1992, most ASL performers appeared on screen for 8% or less of the broadcasted song. Axios’ analysis included ASL performers only when their signing could be clearly seen and while the singer was singing. The majority of ASL performers were nationally televised for seven seconds or less of the song.”
The National Association of the Deaf, Love Sign and the NFL had previously announced actor Durant (“CODA”) actress and model Piñero and actor/dancer/choreographer Sanchez as the performers signing the various performances. The ASL pre-game performances and the ASL Halftime show are produced in partnership with Alexis Kashar of Love Sign and Howard Rosenblum of NAD.