Gladys Knight's straight-forward National Anthem performance prior to the start of Super Bowl LIII was the performance America could agree on from Sunday night (Feb. 3).

It was a soaring, seemingly impossible vocal performance backed by an orchestral arrangement. Knight — a 74-year-old Atlanta native — delivered a rendition for the ages by rarely straying from the traditional structure of the "Star Spangled Banner." Players stood at attention as the camera switched between the soul singer, troops overseas, the audience at large and finally the five-jet military flyover Mercedes Benz Stadium which had its roof open for the event.

Knight slowly moved through the song, only deviating at the very end when she sang the final word "brave" two times. Few will argue the merit of the performance, especially with a relatively unremarkable halftime performance by Maroon 5. On Monday, conversation turned toward whether the soul singer should have performed at all. Some on social media felt she should have decline out of respect to the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick. Knight defended herself on Friday, telling CNN it came down to respect for our country.

"People are going to have their opinions," she said (quote via Mediaite). "All I can deal with right now is what my heart says. Okay? I believe in fairness ... I believe in truth. I believe in all of those things, and as far as this is concerned, I grew up with the National Anthem. We used to sing it in school before school started. We used to say prayers in school before school started, and we just don’t have that anymore and I’m just — I'm just hoping that it will be about our country and how we treat each other and being the great country that we are."

Less important was a controversy created by Knight singing the word "brave" two times. That pushed the time of her National Anthem beyond what many sports books had as the over/under for bettors. Sports business reporter Darren Rovell pointed this out on Twitter.

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