NFL Ratings Are Down, Could it be the On-field Protests?

The Train Daddy is back, bringing sports news, life lessons and politically incorrect talk to you, the loyal reader. Fall is my favorite season: the cool temperatures, the beautiful Tennessee landscape as leaves change over, and not to mention glorious football. Rocky Top Nation is representing well. Okay, people, here is some wise advice before we dig deeper into this issue. Happiness isn’t a place or a thing, it’s not about getting what you want, or what you hope for. Happiness is a mood, it’s a condition. Just remember as we start this new holiday season, hold family and friends close, enjoy football, take in the little things. It’s so much easier for people to complain, to protest and moan about the way their lives are, rather than finding joy in small matters. Happiness comes from within (that’s why it feels sooo good to fart!). Remember the 5 F’s: Faith, Family, Football, Food and Friends. Life will reward you if you live by that.

I thought long and hard about what to discuss this issue (some people think small and soft: I assure you, not me). I contemplated doing a Tennessee Titans breakdown, and realized I could do that in one sentence. The Titans have heart and passion, yet the offense can’t score. Marcus is a turnover machine, Coach Mularkey’s ground-and-pound system isn’t productive in today’s NFL and the special teams equal disaster . . . that was two sentences.

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota

I love my Titans. The time to win is now. Get it together, Marcus! The schedule is soft these next four weeks, with all matchups against teams with losing records: Miami, Cleveland, Indy and the Jags. Progress as a team and win!

Into the beef of this enchilada: the NFL is down, people. That’s right, the stocks have dropped, they’re headed down to China Town.

The NFL has a problem. Numbers! Ratings! Why? No one has an answer yet, but we have speculations—at least I do. This isn’t mainstream news yet, but believe me it will be soon. The NFL has played it off, talking about it would lend it credence. Yet we are getting into October and they can’t hide behind the numbers for much longer.

Don’t get me wrong, the NFL still dominates cable television. But after it seemed the league was unstoppable in marketing and dominating all demographics for the last 15 years, numbers have dropped. Ratings for CBS are down 15 percent, ratings for Sunday Night Football on NBC are down 10 percent and the numbers for Monday Night Football on ESPN are down a whopping 19 percent from last season. It’s a huge deal, double digit drops. So why is this the case?

Maybe Mark Cuban was right years ago when he stated, “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered, and they’re getting hoggy.” He was discussing the NFL’s television expansion plans, and even stated he believed the NFL was 10 years away from implosion.

I don’t know about that, but I do have my thoughts. Some experts claim that numbers are down due to a lack of primetime games to start the 2016 season, or the fact that there is a lack of superstar quarterbacks, with Peyton retired and Brady suspended to start the season. Some say millennials are watching less cable. Some even state this crazy political sideshow has had an effect on the NFL’s ratings. A record 82 million people did watch the first presidential debate, but that was one Monday night, not a valid explanation for four weeks of bad ratings.

What about the protests? Players not standing for the anthem, kneeling, throwing up fists, the constant discussion of commentators during games or seconds before the anthem. What about ESPN, shows like First Take, where they have loud, argumentative style conversations about the protest and the morality of it?

Of course there is the evolution of Colin Crap’s disrespectful anthem protest, as a small but significant amount of players have followed suit to join the so-called silent protest. The NFL would be ignorant not to worry about Twitter’s #BoycottNFL.

The players have even taken the protest internationally. In a Week 4 game held in England, the Colts vs. Jags, defensive back Antonio Cromartie took a knee and held up a fist for America’s anthem. It’s embarrassing wondering what these other civilized countries think about it.

This is a problem. In retrospect Roger Goodell should have allowed a week of personal statements before laying the law down and saying, “Protest on your own time, not on the field!” The league has yet to condemn any actions, no fines for players protesting, but the NFL is a business and if these protests really begin conflicting with ratings and profit, either Roger will lose his job in the near future or actions will be taken to stop protest on the field.


Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos knelt by himself prior to the opening game of the 2016 season.

You may say, Train Daddy, they can’t stop free speech. It’s not free speech on the field. The NFL is a job and a business, and the field is the office. Commissioner Goodell is the boss, and the boss makes the rules or you’re fired. Did you think NFL athletes can do whatever they want, whenever? The NBA is by all means very progressive, yet they have a rule. It’s in their contracts: players and coaches must stand for the anthem.

Yahoo Sports did a survey that stated 44 percent of NFL fans said they would actually quit watching games if the anthem protest continued throughout the season. The NFL is making a mistake allowing these protests to have gotten this far, they have to stay neutral on certain subjects. If the perception of football starts leaning towards a liberal perspective, you guarantee a divide in your fan base. Maybe not everyone would stop watching, but perspective is powerful.

It just paints an ugly portrait when you have Colin Crap wearing socks depicting cops as pigs during practice and then you have the league telling the Dallas Cowboys they can’t have decals on their helmets honoring murdered police officers. The fact that Colin is willing to wear socks with the intent to offend shows that he truly doesn’t want to approach this issue peacefully, but wants to only make noise.

I understand this society isn’t perfect, I do believe it offers every single citizen with opportunities to be successful. I just think it does the hundreds of thousands of outstanding police officers a disservice painting them with such a broad brush.

Of course protesters around the country have the right to protest, or disrespect the flag of a country that may not be perfect, yet offers so much for those willing to see it. The same goes for NFL fans. They have the right to turn off their TVs, not buy tickets or NFL merchandise and stop the cash flow that makes these players’ lavish salaries possible.

We all agree the discussion is important; we all want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and that we are all held accountable for our actions. But nearly anyone with sense disagrees in using the football field, or using the anthem as a staging ground for these protests. So I hope the NFL wises up and puts a stop to it, and maybe these athletes can find a new way to protest their opinions. Because if they don’t I believe the NFL will be stuck too deep in the middle of a problem and will then realize they should have acted sooner.

That’s it folks! I found this topic very interesting and I hope we as a country can unite and let the playing field be what it is: a place we play and watch football, not a political platform. Train’s out the station. Choo-choo!


About the Author

The Z-Train is a Murfreesboro resident and enjoys all sports, but bleeds code blue for his beloved Titans, who will one sweet day bring home that beautiful Lombardi Trophy to Tennessee. Always remember the Train’s big F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Food and FOOTBALL!

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