Handful of NFL Players Still Kneeling, NFL Considering Solution for Next Year

By Rachel Alexander Published on November 27, 2017

As NFL players continue to take a knee, things get worse for the NFL. The season-long decline in viewers is increasing. So is the season-long decline in people actually attending the games. The bottom line? $500 million in potential lost revenue for CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC. No one’s counted the lost revenue from the stadiums and merchandise.

Significantly fewer people watch the NFL this season. Other businesses would be panicking if they lost market share so fast. There were one million fewer viewers during week 11 this year than last year’s week 11. That’s a drop from 15.9 million to 14.9 million. Last week’s 6.3 percent slump from the previous year is steeper than in the last three weeks, when it declined 5.6 to 5.7 percent. 

From 2015 to Now

In 2015, the NFL saw the highest ratings ever. Now, it’s down 20 percent from that season. The sport also has the highest unfavorable rating – 40 percent – of any big sport, according to the Winston Group.

The kneeling drove away many of its core supporters, men age 34-54. This group should form the league’s reliable fanbase for the next couple decades, but not if a large percentage stop watching. That demographic fell 31 percent in their favorable opinion, from 73 percent to 42 percent. Photos went viral of half-empty stadiums.

NFL football has the highest unfavorable rating – 40 percent – of any big sport


A handful of players still kneel, down from a high of over 200 in Week 3. Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch refused to stand for the anthem during a game in Mexico City earlier this month, although he stood for the Mexican anthem. President Trump tweeted his disapproval.

Lynch has not explained why he kneels. However, before the Week 4 game, he wore a shirt that said “Everybody vs. Trump.” Trump has threatened to end the tax-exempt bonds that fund many of the league’s stadiums due to the kneeing, though he has no ability to do so.

He tweeted that fans should boycott games where players are kneeling. Vice President Mike Pence left a game before it began recently due to players kneeling.

Possible Solutions

Some team owners are fixing the problem on their own. Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford asked her team to stop kneeling. She told the players she would donate her name and money to causes they care about if they found a different way to protest. 

Some team owners are fixing the problem on their own.

However, that request doesn’t always work. Giants owner John Mara asked his team to stand, but defensive end Olivier Vernon knelt during the national anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving. Vernon told Newsday he kneels because of “social injustice on African-Americans and police brutality.” He was the only player in the NFL to kneel that day. Trump criticized him in a tweet.

Controversial Cowboys owner Jerry Jones put some teeth into it, telling his players they better stand or they’ll be benched, so the players have obliged. Jones is trying to get the NFL to adopt that policy for the entire league. 

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The NFL is now considering requiring players to remain in the locker room during games next season. Trump tweeted that this was an unacceptable solution. He wants NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to do something about it.

While Trump may not like the solution of keeping the players in the locker room, it would end the controversy. Out Kick the Coverage reported, “There is agreement that the NFL needs to find a resolution to the protests.”

Patriotism and Revenue

An inside source told The Washington Post the league is likely the players in the locker room if some continue kneeling. The owners appear to support the move. The NFL may not care about patriotism, but it does care about revenue and the TV networks do as well. No team has signed Colin Kaepernick, who last season started the practice of kneeling.

Even then, it remains to be seen if the NFL will be restored to its previous lofty status in American sports. Former fans are acquiring new hobbies to replace the games. The NFL could have enforced its rules against the players kneeling early on and stopped the hemorrhaging, but chose not to. It may never be the giant it was.


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC.

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  • Trump is wrong about one thing – Goodell hasn’t lost control of the NFL, he’s gained it. He’s a hard leftist, as his initial statement about the kneeling shows (defending the kneeling and accusing *Trump* of being divisive for calling them out on it), and what we’re seeing is the logical fruit of his applied ideology. And for this he gets paid $40M per year? We need to have our heads examined.

    At this point it matters not whether the NFL stands or kneels. Because if they stand now, it will be for the wrong reasons. They have lost a lot of people permanently.

  • whoodoo

    There have been plenty of opportunities and time for Goodell, the owners, and the players’ union to “get it”, but instead, they’ve tried, with the networks, to bluff their way through. 1%ers just think like that – they believe they have the right to take, take take, from the country without gratitude for their ability to do so or respect for the country that made their achievements possible – as if each of them “did their thing” on their own. That’s not to affirm the opposite extreme – i. e., no one deserves credit or reward for what they have, only that there is a balance between the two, and the NFL has forgotten that balance.

  • James

    The fan base is mostly blue collar whites.
    The players are mostly black men who have been to college.

    As long as there is tension between these two groups, there will be tension in the NFL.

  • Even if they tried to move a team back into St. Louis, I really think the vast majority of the people here would tell them what to go do with themselves, especially after the pitiful show of this season.

  • robert quintano

    I’ve been a dedicated fan for over 25 years. This is the first year I will not watch a game. Screw those overpaid, overgrown children. When they stand, like a man, I will watch my first game. I hope they hurry up-I LOVE ME SOME FOOTBALL!!!

  • Irene Neuner

    I think this anthem kneeling was the final straw in pro sports for reasonable people. Pro sports have been over commercialized events featuring supersized egomaniac ‘leaders’ with very bad habits for atleast 10 years running. All the while bludgeoning paying customers with godless worship of themselves and their advertisers.

    Cancel your cable if you haven’t already. Of course Netflix isn’t any better.

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