ESPN Finally Comes Clean: Protests Were the Main Reason NFL Lost Viewers Last Season

After Colin Kaepernick protested during the national anthem, a lot of people felt that professional sports were turning into a political sideshow.

Kaepernick’s subtle shots at police wearing by pig-themed socks during training didn’t help his situation, either.

Kaepernick’s protest didn’t just inspire some other teammates to join in. It prompted other NFL players to follow his lead.

Players from the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos took a knee or raised a fist during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s stunt went way further than just the gridiron. High school and even elementary football teams took a knee on the field in support for the former 49er.

During the protests, viewership of NFL games went down. But at the time, there was just speculation that the Kaepernick’s political activism was the reason behind the low ratings.

Now there is data to back up the claim, though.

According to ESPN:

National anthem protests were the top reason that NFL fans watched fewer games last season, according to a new survey released by J.D. Power.

The pollster said it asked more than 9,200 people who attended either one football, basketball or hockey game whether they tuned into fewer games and why.

Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick is still struggling to find a team that wants him and all the baggage he includes.

Earlier this week, there was some buzz that the Baltimore Ravens might sign Kaepernick because its quarterback, Joe Flacco, is out for several weeks with a back injury. But guess what? To add insult to injury, the Ravens just signed arena league quarterback David Olson instead of Kaepernick.

Perhaps Kaepernick should shed his political image. It doesn’t appear to be doing him or the NFL any favors.

And it seems that football fans watch the sport because of their love for football. Imagine that. They’re not interested in seeing players display their political grievances before the game.

With the NFL season officially starting in September, anyone who wants to be the next Kaepernick should pay close attention to how well it’s worked out for him.

In the 2016 season, he was the most disliked player in the NFL. Kaepernick was criticized and blasted by military veterans and police for his stances against the American flag and law enforcement. In addition, even after he had a change of heart and said he would stand for the anthem in the 2017-2018 season, he remains unemployed in the NFL.

On second thought, being the next Kaepernick is one of the worst things an NFL player could do to themselves. So NFL players, even if you have the same disdain for the anthem that Kaepernick does, just grit your teeth through it. Play the game. Leave your politics at the door.

Otherwise, you could find yourself in the same sinking boat as Kaepernick, who ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski once predicted could be one of “the greatest quarterbacks ever.” Of course, that was long before the former 49er decided throwing politics on the field was more important than throwing a pigskin.

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