Short an abject Apology to Fans No Meeting Will Solve the NFL’s Protest Problem

Yesterday I argued that the there was an actual reason why the San Francisco 49ers might as well sign Colin Kaepernick (2-10 last year as a starter) as they can’t do any worse with him as they have been doing without him (0-6) but there is one other reason why it doesn’t really matter anymore if the instigator (or as I suspect the boyfriend of the REAL instigator) of the NFL protests is signed.

It’s because the damage has already been done.

For the owners and the players who by contract (rightly) get a large share of revenue the decision to first tolerate Kaepernick’s solo protest and then to react to , rather than ignore, the President’s remarks at his famous Alabama appearance for the defeated Luther Strange has burst the dam.

They have managed to turn the most popular sport in the nation into one of  the most divisive brands in the country.

After more than a year of rampant NFL player protests, the National Football League is now seen as one of the most divisive brand names in America, a new report finds.

As reported in the New York Times, a new Morning Consult survey found that the NFL is viewed as “polarizing,” by nearly as many people as view President Donald Trump’s hotels that way. The survey found that the NFL now figures in among the top ten most polarizing brand names. The top ten most divisive list includes Trump hotels, CNN, NBC News, The New York Times, MSNBC, Fox News, the NFL, ABC News, HuffPost, and CBS News.

They have managed to tank the ratings to the point where CBS’ stock is suffering:

Declining NFL television ratings will lower CBS earnings, according to Credit Suisse.

The firm cut its third-quarter EPS estimates by 5 percent, citing CBS’ softer Sunday NFL ratings. The media company reports on Nov. 2.

Which means bad news when renegotiating contracts:

The downgrade comes at a time when the NFL is negotiating two important distribution deals that end after this season: Verizon’s $250 million a year streaming agreement and the $450 million a year Thursday Night Football deal for games shared by CBS and NBC.

 Through five weeks, the league’s ratings are substantially lower this season, according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News.:

The league’s average TV audience through Week 5 of the 2017 season dropped 7% vs. the same period of the 2016 season, and the average game audiences are down 18% compared to the first five weeks of the 2015 season.

How bad is it?  While at a bar I actually saw an ad run for people to get on the Patriots season ticket waiting list which is undoubtedly the result of the decision of 17 pats to kneel that first week after the Trump speech:

They have not kneeled since but apparently the damage is already done. Which is why the networks spent this week pretending the protests weren’t happening and the league which spent a year denying that the anthem protests were hurting their bottom line is desperate for a solution.

But given this story:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners of each team, representatives of the players’ union and players themselves will meet Tuesday to discuss ways to “move from protest to progress.”

Among the topics will be enhancing their platforms for speaking out on social issues, and the league’s policy that suggests but does not mandate players standing for the national anthem.

There is a quiet mandate, though, for those discussions: figuring out how to get the attention back on those social issues, not how they are being publicized.

And getting the attention back on football.

I can tell you it will not help. The very fact that “social issues” are on the agenda gives it away. This is a football league and it’s purpose is to play football. If players want to get involved off the field that’s fine but it’s not the league’s job to push the left’s political agenda.

Most incredible of all, they have done this in defiance of their ticket buying fan base on behalf of a bunch of liberals whose only interest in the game is being seen at the spectacle of a super bowl and an ultra liberal sports media who convinced them they it was the thing to do.

I think short of an abject apology the owner, from players individually and the players union as a whole for disrespecting the flag (an apology that many fans would love to accept) the days of the NFL as it once was is over.

Update: This is a start

The Jacksonville Jaguars have apologized to local military leaders for demonstrating during the national anthem in London last month…”This was an oversight and certainly not intended to send a message that would disparage you, our flag or our nation,” Lamping wrote to Bill Spann, director of Jacksonville’s military affairs and veterans department.

The line that really hit me was this:

“The notion never entered the minds of our players or anyone affiliated with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but today we can understand how the events in London on September 24 could have been viewed or misinterpreted,”

Yes you read that right, the notion never entered the minds of either the players or the management of the Jacksonville Jaguars that disrespecting the US flag while standing for God save the queen on foreign soil might be insulting to America.

That tells you everything you need to know.