Deaf & HH Adults

Why Marlee Matlin Should Have Shared the Stage with Lady Gaga

marlee matlin super bowl 50

My husband and I were a little late leaving the house to head to a friend’s house to watch the Super Bowl game. I was a little heavy on the pedal as I didn’t want to miss Marlee Matlin signing the National Anthem at the start of the game. I just prayed no cops would pull me over.

We arrived just as Lady Gaga took to the stage and the first notes of the song began. My husband and I joined our friends as we gathered around the TV and waited in anticipation to see Marlee sign.  The camera panned out to show Lady Gaga standing next to the piano, alone.

“Wait a minute, where’s Marlee?” I asked.

“Hopefully they’ll show her.”

So we sat and we watched.

“Ah, there she is!”

The camera zoomed in on Marlee.

For four seconds.

And we never saw her again.

Well, no, that’s not true. If you squinted and looked a couple feet away from the stage during an overhead pan out, you could see Marlee’s arms moving.

As Lady Gaga belted out the last line, the rest of us looked at each other, stunned.

“Marlee should have been on that stage,” someone said.

Yes, she should have.

This is the third time Marlee has signed the National Anthem at a Super Bowl. In 1993, she shared the stage with Garth Brooks. She shared the stage because Garth specifically wanted her up there with him.  Garth’s decision sent a powerful message to millions–he wanted his music visually accessible and he wanted Marlee signing next to him.

Garth Brooks and Marlee Matlin: National Anthem


As it should be.

Yes, I know star performers would rather have the spotlight, but in this day and age, could we possibly shift the paradigm a bit–one that is more inclusive?

We had missed the earlier announcement from NAD that CBS Sports would also live-stream Marlee Matlin’s entire performance online as an alternative viewing source. But even if we had streamed it alongside the TV, the experience would not be the same as watching Marlee on the same stage on TV. Heck, most of us would have been happy to just have Marlee on a split-screen at the very least. Thankfully, Marlee’s performance was shown on the Jumbotron: Marlee Matlin Signs the National Anthem.

I must say, long after the Super Bowl ended, I couldn’t shake the disappointment I felt. I thought about my three deaf and hard of hearing kids–and all the deaf and hard of hearing children of families all over the world–how many more years will it take before we truly equalize the playing field?

Marlee should have been on that stage.


Karen Putz

Co-Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion

Mom to Dave, Ren, and Steven



  1. unfortunately the live streaming crashed just before the start of the anthem and wasn’t back up til the 2nd quarter. So wasn’t an option either. As an interpreter involved with the Deaf Community and being HoH I too was looking forward to this and was deeply disappointed.

  2. I agree and yes I’m too disappointed that American society treats deaf and hard of hearing like we don’t exist and I too want to see more the hearing people in jobs of all types and hope the future will come to us

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