The NFL and its supporters have loudly and repeatedly insisted that the anti-US protests are having absolutely no impact whatsoever on the ratings drop, and have remained outwardly supportive of them, instead insisting it is things like “bad play” which are causing the seats to empty and the ratings to tank.
The NFL knows differently however, and is attempting to financially settle things behind the scenes:
The NFL and a group of players reached an agreement in principle late Wednesday night to partner on a plan to address social justice issues considered important to African-American communities, sources told ESPN.
The unprecedented agreement calls for the league to contribute $89 million over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.
During a conference call Wednesday night, Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, who lead roughly 40 players who have negotiated with the league office about demonstrations during the national anthem, guided the group through the highlights of the package, which represents the NFL’s largest contribution to a social issue, surpassing that of Salute to Service or Breast Cancer Awareness/Crucial Catch.
The partnership came a day after some players broke away from the Players Coalition because of their dissatisfaction with how Jenkins and Boldin have handled negotiations. Commissioner Roger Goodell, believing that an agreement was at hand, was furious when ESPN reported that players were breaking off, according to one source. But during an afternoon call, Jenkins asked that the commissioner and the owners continue to stand with the players and allow them to do important work in the community.
The agreement does not include language calling for players to end protests during the national anthem in exchange for funds; there’s no implicit quid pro quo. But the NFL hopes this effort will effectively end the peaceful yet controversial movement that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started in 2016, when he refused to stand for the anthem.
This bribe is ludicrous, and represents the NFL trying to buy off the social justice left in order to stop the protests. But when push comes to shove, those running the NFL consider their personal standing with fellow social justice warriors more important than getting the league back on track, so if the bribe fails, don’t expect more direct crackdowns.
Until leftist zealots like Roger Goodell are replaced by hard-headed businessmen who won’t tolerate the protests and openly crack down on the protesters, I think this ratings drop is going to continue.