Saturday, October 14, 2017

The economics of the N.F.L. boycott


The revenue sources of the National Football League

These articles show where the NFL receives their income.  They are arranged in chronological order, oldest first.

Bloomberg, July 20, 2015 "NFL Teams Split $7.3 Billion in Revenue, Packers Numbers Reveal"

Christian News Service, September 16, 2015 "Op-Ed: NFL teams score $7 billion in taxpayer subsidies on stadiums"

Forbes, March 1, 2017 "NFL TV Ad Revenue Hits Record $3.5 Billion Despite Drop In Ratings"

Forbes, March 6, 2017 "NFL will reach $14 billion in 2017 revenue"

Bloomberg, July 12, 2017 "NFL Teams Split Record $7.8 Billion in 2016, Up 10 Percent"

Note: The Green Bay Packers are a publicly-owned team.  These words are the description of their stock on Google's specialized website for stock investors.

On the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers battle for pride in the National Football League.  The not-for-profit corporation owns and operates the storied franchise, which was founded in 1919 by Earl "Curly" Lambeau and joined the NFL in 1921.  Home to such icons as Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, and legendary coach Vince Lombardi, Green Bay boasts a record 13 league titles including four Super Bowl victories.  The team is also the only community-owned franchise in American professional sports with more than 250,000 shareholders.  The shares do not increase in value nor pay dividends, and can only be sold back to the team.


Sponsorship of teams, players, and the league

These are the first four paragraphs of a May 20, 2016 Reuters story that was published on the website of Fortune Magazine.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.
Adidas wants to sign dozens of deals with U.S. sports stars in coming years, hoping that will provide a more lasting boost to sales than the current fashion fad for its retro sneakers, its North America head told Reuters.

Since falling into third place in the United States behind Nike (NKE, +0.75%) and Under Armour , the German firm has regained some ground in recent months after raising marketing spending in the world’s top sportswear market.

Mark King has put a big focus on signing top athletes in sports like American football, basketball and baseball since he took over as president of the region for Adidas in 2014, after more than a decade running the company’s golf business.

He said Adidas (ADDYY, -0.63%) wants to sponsor 250 National Football League (NFL) players by 2020, up from 95 now, plus 100 National Basketball Association players (NBA), up from about 70 now.
As I recently told a friend on Twitter, it looks like Adidas didn't calculate what might happen if an N.F.L. player refused to stand for the National Anthem and if the N.F.L. Commissioner didn't punish him.

Rules are meaningless if the N.F.L. referees won't penalize players who violate the rules.  Rules are also meaningless if team owners and the N.F.L. Commissioner won't fine any player who violate the rules.

These are the first five paragraphs of a September 12, 2016 Denver Post story.
Brandon Marshall says he has no regrets.  He doesn’t regret kneeling for the national anthem ahead of the Broncos’ season opener against the Panthers on Thursday.  He doesn’t regret his peaceful protest of racial inequity and police brutality.  And he doesn’t regret it all, even as the backlash and hatred pile on.

Marshall, a teammate of Colin Kaepernick’s at the University of Nevada, said he had made the calculated decision to join the 49ers quarterback standing — or kneeling — for his beliefs, but expected pushback.

Friday, Marshall lost an endorsement  with Air Academy Federal Credit Union.  On Monday, Marshall lost another in CenturyLink, a company whose name is painted on the top of the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium.  (On Sunday, all 53 Seahawks players stood together for the anthem, with their arms linked as a show of unity.)

“We completely respect Brandon Marshall’s personal decision and right to take an action to support something in which he strongly believes,” CenturyLink said in a statement. “America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs.  While we acknowledge Brandon’s right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation.  In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments.  For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.”

As Marshall and his teammates practiced at the Broncos’ Dove Valley facility Monday morning, a man pulled up to the team’s headquarters and set ablaze an orange T-shirt with Marshall’s name written on it in ink.
These two sentences are in the fourth paragraph of the previous story.

"While we acknowledge Brandon’s right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation.  In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments."


This is the complete text of a September 23, 2017 Forbes article.  All of the links were included in their article.
During the past month the overall stock market is up more than 2% but shares of companies that broadcast NFL games--Comcast, Walt Disney, Fox, CBS--are all down between 1% to 8%.

The NFL is now a hotbed of protests--a carry over from last year that began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the National Anthem, to protests this year by those who feel Kaepernick, who is without a team, is being unfairly treated by by the league, to a stronger push by some players for an increase in NFL social activism.

Towards the end of last season some felt the NFL's ratings dip would be temporary and therefore would not ultimately hurt the networks by forcing them to reimburse advertisers. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Ratings for the the NFL have been worse this season and attendance for some games has also been disappointing.  The networks will pay over $5 billion this season to televise the NFL and were already facing unflattering margins on advertising profits.  An article in The Hollywood Reporter reckons the drop in NFL ratings could trim the broadcaster's earnings by $200 million.  Disney's ESPN, meanwhile, also continues to get hammered by cord-cutting.

It's just two weeks into the 2017 NFL season.  But the trend is not good for the league and its networks.  No one seems happy.
This is the last paragraph.

"It's just two weeks into the 2017 NFL season.  But the trend is not good for the league and its networks.  No one seems happy."


These are the first five paragraphs of an October 5, 2017 article on the N.J. com website.  The letters "TWP" are an abbreviation for "township".  The link in the first paragraph was in their article.
RARITAN TWP. -- In response to the ongoing controversy surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the owner of Flemington Car and Truck Country has pulled the dealership's ads from broadcasts of games for the remainder of the 2017 season.

"The National Football League and its owners have shown their fans and marketing partners that they do not have a comprehensive policy to ensure that players stand and show respect for America and our flag during the playing of the national anthem," Steve Kalafer said in a statement. "We have cancelled all of our NFL advertising on the Optimum and Infinity (cable) networks."

Kalafer is also part of the Somerset Patriots' ownership group, an independent professional baseball team based in Somerset County.

"As the NFL parses the important nationwide issues of 'social justice' and 'freedom of speech,' it is clear that a firm direction by them is not forthcoming," Kalafer said in the statement.

Advertising during the 2018 season will be considered at a later date, he said. Representatives of Optimum and Xfinity could not be reached for comment as of Monday night.

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 27, 2017 E.S.P.N. article.
NOBODY KNEW WHERE to sit. Side by side or across from one another?

It was the final question raised by a group of 11 NFL team owners as they mingled inside the sixth-floor conference room at the league's Park Avenue headquarters in New York City, minutes before they were to meet with a group of 12 players, one former player and three union leaders on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 17.  The day already had been stressful, and the meeting hadn't even started.  League executives had spent that morning as they had the previous four weeks: grappling with a series of events the league and owners could not control, unleashed by President Donald Trump's harsh criticism of the decision by a handful of players to kneel during the national anthem.

Morale was bad inside the league office, and the pressure was not letting up.  There was the looming notion that sponsors would leave the NFL -- not just because of the protests but because of an array of challenges confronting the league, including the continuing decline in TV ratings.  Nearly all of the league's longtime sponsors, from Papa John's to USAA, were rattled, and fissures within the league offices and teams, to say nothing of the players, were starting to expand.
This is the last sentence in the third paragraph.

"Nearly all of the league's longtime sponsors, from Papa John's to USAA, were rattled, and fissures within the league offices and teams, to say nothing of the players, were starting to expand."


These are the first three paragraphs of a November 1, 2017 E.S.P.N. article.
Executives from Papa John's, the official pizza company of the NFL, expressed disappointment on a conference call Wednesday about the league's ongoing player protests during the national anthem.

"The NFL has hurt us," company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this."

Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots. Later in the day, a spokesman clarified that the spots themselves weren't being pulled, just the NFL shield or "official sponsor" designation on those spots.

When I see other similar articles or news stories that are relevant to this page, I will add them.  I am also looking for articles or news stories that show the effect of the boycott on individual teams and on the league.  As of this date, October 14, 2017, I consider it likely that at least one team will require financial assistance in order to pay for their expenses, which include player salaries.

These are the first four paragraphs of a November 6, 2016 AdWeek article.  The link in the third paragraph was in their article.
While advertisers are sticking by the NFL games this season, they have made it clear to at least one network that they might pull out if coverage of national anthem protests continues.

Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal, said that some advertisers are unhappy about the controversy over protests, which has “impacted” NFL ratings this year.  She spoke Friday afternoon in New York during a fireside chat, moderated by Adweek, between her and Oath CEO Tim Armstrong that was part of the Verizon Media Tech Program with digital media agency R/GA.

During the conversation with Armstrong, Yaccarino was asked about Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, who blamed his company’s disappointing quarterly earnings on the NFL’s failure to curtail national anthem protests, as well as the response from CBS Corp. CEO and chairman Leslie Moonves, who noted on his own earnings call that there was no hesitation on the part of any of his network’s NFL advertisers.  “I don’t know of one sponsor that has pulled out of any spot that they had,” said Moonves.  “I don’t think it’s affecting advertising or their desire one iota.”

Yaccarino echoed Moonves’ comments, and said that none of NBCUniversal’s NFL advertisers have pulled out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football or Thursday Night Football games.  However, a “list of advertisers have made themselves very clear: if you continue covering the political coverage of the issue, we will not be part of the NFL,” she said.  “Because think about it: they have half the country that is cheering about that, and they have half the country that is emailing them, saying, don’t do that.  So that’s a real thing.”
This is the second sentence of the fourth paragraph.

However, a “list of advertisers have made themselves very clear: if you continue covering the political coverage of the issue, we will not be part of the NFL,” she said.

The person who said this is Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships for NBCUniversal.


The economic effect of the boycott over time

The news stories in this section are arranged in chronological order, oldest first.  The economic effects in the following stories can be measured in a few different ways, such as:
  • reduced attendance at the stadiums
  • the reduced television and radio audience for games
  • lower sales of N.F.L.-licensed merchandise
  • the reluctance or refusal of fans to wear N.F.L.-licensed merchandise
All of these have some effect on the actual amount of income that is received by individual teams and the league.


The 2016 football season

These are the first three paragraphs of a Forbes, February 29, 2016 article.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earned $34.1 million in 2014, and he was worth every single penny.  Thanks to Goodell's masterful negotiation of lucrative television rights deals as well as the enhancement of several new league income streams, the NFL's total revenues are projected to surpass $13.3 billion this year, up more than 50% from 2010.

The projections are extrapolated from the newly revealed player revenue share numbers, which are estimated at around $200 million in total benefits for the 2016-17 season, of which $155 million will be directly allocated under the salary cap.  These numbers, revealed by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, mean that the approximately 1800 players in the league will share some $6.4 billion this upcoming season, which based on the collective bargaining agreement is a 47-48% share of total league revenues.

The $13+ billion revenue figure is even more notable because it is halfway towards Goodell's stated goal of $25 billion, which he claims the league will reach by 2027.  When Goodell made that announcement in 2010, revenues were only $8.5 billion, meaning the league has brought in an estimated $750 million annually over the last six years... keeping them right on track for the $25 billion mark.
Please note that in the first paragraph of the previous article, the Commissioner's 2014 income is compared to his 2010 income, not his 2013 income, which would have been a straightforward one-year comparison.

Please also note that this early 2016 article was written long before the first N.F.L. player began protesting the National Anthem, as proven by the next article.


These are the first two paragraphs of an August 27, 2016 article on the N.F.L. website.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

His latest refusal to stand for the anthem -- he has done this in at least one other preseason game -- came before the 49ers' preseason loss to Green Bay at Levi's Stadium on Friday night.
Mr. Kaepernick's protest began during games that were played during August 2016, usually referred to as "pre-season games" because the results of those games don't affect the names of the teams that are in the post-season playoffs.  The graphic on the right shows an easy method of recording the playoff results.

United Press International published a similar story on August 28, 2016.  This story mentions Colin's poor performance on the field, which is a legitimate reason for a coach to take a player out of a game.

This video was uploaded on September 1, 2016 by Mark Dice, a media analyst.

The title of this video is "Colin Kaepernick Booed For Refusing to Stand During National Anthem on Military Appreciation Night".

September 11, 2016 was the 15th anniversary of the attacks in New York City, Washington D.C., and the attack that was prevented by the passengers who were aboard United Airlines Flight 93.


These are the first three paragraphs of an undated Bleacher Report article titled How NFL, Players Observed National Anthem on 15th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.  The following Associated Press photo was included in the article and positioned just below the headline.

With fervor over national anthem demonstrations at an all-time high, the focus on "The Star-Spangled Banner" was never greater than Sunday, which marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

There were demonstrations planned across the NFL for Week 1, some in support of those who lost their lives and others in protest of racial inequality.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid were off the marquee, with their opener against the Los Angeles Rams scheduled for Monday night. But the Seattle Seahawks made headlines before their game against the Miami Dolphins by announcing their plan to lock arms as a sign of unity.
N.F.L. fans can be very patriotic, but most of the N.F.L. players, their player association, and the N.F.L. Commissioner are all ignoring this fact.


These are the first six paragraphs of a September 19, 2016 Sporting News story.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.
ESPN host Jemele Hill is back on the air after calling President Trump a "white supremacist" who has surrounded himself with "other white supremicists" — remarks that earned her a reprimand, but not a suspension, from the network.

The Twitter-taunting and subsequent fallout comes as the sports network's ratings have taken a significant hit over the last year, starting with players' social justice protests at pre-game festivities.

Both the TV networks and the NFL are paying the penalty.

As of July 2017, ESPN's ratings already dropped 9 percent compared to the same time period last year. Add that to an already bruising 2016 — in November 2016 alone, more than 600,000 subscribers dropped the network.

Viewership for the entire NFL is down 14 percent this year, according to Pivotal Research. It represents an eight-year low. Last year, ratings fell 9 percent.

Advertising spending is also down. The NFL is experiencing the worst advanced ad sales in a decade. Not since the recession started in 2008 have revenues been this dismal.

This is the third paragraph of the February 29, 2016 Forbes Magazine article that I quoted and linked earlier.
The $13+ billion revenue figure is even more notable because it is halfway towards Goodell's stated goal of $25 billion, which he claims the league will reach by 2027.  When Goodell made that announcement in 2010, revenues were only $8.5 billion, meaning the league has brought in an estimated $750 million annually over the last six years... keeping them right on track for the $25 billion mark.
The N.F.L. Commissioner's remark was made years before Mr. Kaepernick threw a monkey wrench into the relationship between the N.F.L. and the fans.


These are the first five paragraphs of an October 5, 2016 Sporting News story.  The links in these paragraphs were in the article.
It's the Kaepernick Effect, stupid.

The alarming fall in NFL TV ratings this season is partly because of fan anger over on-field protests by Colin Kaepernick and other players of the American flag/national anthem, according to pollster Rasmussen Reports.

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of adults say they're less likely to watch NFL game telecasts because of the Kaepernick-led player protests against racial injustice, according to Rasmussen's telephone/online survey of 1,000 American adults conducted Oct. 2-3.

Only 13 percent said they were more likely to watch an NFL game because of continuing protests by Kaepernick and supporters such as Antonio Cromartie of the Colts (who was cut only two days after raising a fist during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in London on Sunday).

More than half(52 percent) say the protests have no impact on their decision to watch NFL games on NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN and NFL Network this season.
The third paragraph of the previous story is only one sentence. Here it is.

"Nearly one-third (32 percent) of adults say they're less likely to watch NFL game telecasts because of the Kaepernick-led player protests against racial injustice, according to Rasmussen's telephone/online survey of 1,000 American adults conducted Oct. 2-3."

Forbes Magazine wrote an article on the same date titled Confirmed: NFL Losing Millions Of TV Viewers Because Of National Anthem Protests.  Their article quoted the Sporting News story and linked to it.

The Atlantic Monthly wrote a similar story on October 11, 2016.  It mentions the drop in television ratings, but Colin Kaepernick's name is only mentioned once.  That paragraph mentions twelve other players who have contributed to the sales of N.F.L.-licensed jerseys and television ratings) during the past few years, as of the date of their story.


These are the first seven paragraphs of an October 27, 2016 Sports Illustrated article.  "MMQB" means Monday Morning Quarterback, which is the name of a column about the N.F.L. on their website, written by Peter King.
The NFL has a ratings problem.  Monday Night Football is down 24% from last year at this time, Sunday Night Football is down 19% and Thursday night is down 18%.  We asked readers of The MMQB to share their theories and explanations behind the double-digit losses for prime-time games and the general sense that the league is losing viewers.

These are the first seven paragraphs of a December 13, 2016 Sporting News story.  The link in the seventh paragraph was in their story.
Longtime NFL fan Jon VanDeBogart claims he has not watched one second of NFL action this season.

The former U.S. Marine and police officer is morally offended by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of the U.S. flag and national anthem.

VanDeBogart views Kaepernick's protest as anti-police, anti-military and anti-American.  He wants the NFL to pass an NBA-style rule mandating all players stand for the presentation of the flag/anthem.

He wants Kaepernick and other protesting players kicked out of the league — unless they stand for Old Glory and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"This has left such a bad taste in my mouth," the 46-year-old elementary school teacher told Sporting News.  "I don't know if I can ever forgive them to tell you the truth.  I don't know if I'll get the opportunity to find out.  But it's not looking good.  They may have lost a fan for life."

VanDeBogart is not alone.

Using the hashtag #BoycottNFL, a small-but-vocal group of NFL fans have lodged their own protest against Kaepernick's protest by refusing to watch game telecasts.

These are the first three paragraphs of a January 23, 2017 Forbes Magazine article.  The chart after the second paragraph was included in their article.
Much has been written about the decline in viewership for the NFL this fall.  I wanted to wait until most of the season was over before evaluating the situation in a more analytical way.  It’s easy to jump to conclusions based on a couple of weeks or even half of season of data.  Week-to-week matchups matter a lot for ratings and may not cancel each other out over a few weeks.   In addition, a few special events such as the presidential debates and the unusually compelling World Series overlapped with NFL games.

The table below shows 2016 season average viewership per game compared with the two prior seasons including both the regular season and playoffs through the divisional rounds:

NFL Viewership Per Game (millions) For Regular Season
Season    Viewers
2014        19.2
2015        19.6
2016        17.6

Viewership dropped by about two million per game versus 2015 and about 1.6 million versus 2014.  Playoff numbers are more mixed, showing the effects of the specific matchups.  The playoff numbers show similar declines, at least at the median with 33 million viewers in 2016 falling two million below the 2015 median and four million below the 2014 median.  The top end of the range of playoff viewership is better for 2016, where Dallas' presence in the divisional round boosted the figures (as in 2014).  I don't yet have access to the conference championship numbers, and given the appeal of the Patriots-Steelers matchup, viewership may be strong.  However, given that both championship games turned into blowouts won't help.
The author of this article, Brian Goff, is smart enough to know that the viewership of N.F.L. games can change for many reasons.  These are the last three sentences of his first paragraph.

"It’s easy to jump to conclusions based on a couple of weeks or even half of season of data.  Week-to-week matchups matter a lot for ratings and may not cancel each other out over a few weeks.   In addition, a few special events such as the presidential debates and the unusually compelling World Series overlapped with NFL games."

The next part of Mr. Goff's article shows a similar three-year comparison for the audience of playoff games.  This is the first of his five "results", as shown later in his article.
The NFL lost about a million viewers per game.  Taking into account these other factors makes a sizable dent in the apparent reduction using the raw viewership numbers, but it does not make it vanish altogether.
These are the last two results that he reported in his article.
  • There is a mid-season lull between weeks 7 to 10 where the league loses about 1.5 to 2 million viewers per game.  The World Series fall in this range, but also the combination of team byes along with some loss of early season interest before the push to the playoffs begins helps to explain it.

  • The presidential debates lopped off about 3 million viewers while the World Series reduced viewership by 5 million in 2016 and 4 million in 2015.
I thank Mr. Goff again for his fair and balanced reporting.  Sometimes, finding and reporting a trend requires that more than one year passes before the event that starts the trend, such as Mr. Kaepernick's protest.  That's why Mr. Goff included other factors like presidential debates and the World Series in his analysis, that's why I am including the economic facts of the 2017 football season, and that's why I will continue to write about the economic facts until the protest has ended and the economy of the N.F.L. shows clear signs of improvement as a direct result of the end of the protest.


The 2017 football off-season

These are the first six paragraphs of a March 6, 2017 Sports Business article.  It included a photo, positioned after the third paragraph, of Colin Kaepernick and two other San Francisco players kneeling, which is consistent with the content of the first paragraph.
The NFL will take in roughly $14 billion of revenue this season, over $900 million more than last year.

Increased media payments, a new “Thursday Night Football” package, and the opening of the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota all contributed to the increase.

“It continues unabated,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant close to the NFL.  “When you get above a certain number, it is really hard to move the needle on revenue growth.”

The figures are based on calculations from the salary cap for the 2017 season, which the league and NFLPA released last week.  The cap is $167 million a team.  With player benefits pegged at $37 million, the total for each of the 32 clubs comes to $204 million, or $6.5 billion in labor costs for 2017.

The league shares most revenue with the players, who get between 46 percent and 48 percent of each year’s take.  That would translate to revenue of between $13.6 billion and $14.2 billion.

Those revenue figures are incomplete, as the league does not share every penny with the players, shielding hundreds of millions of dollars in areas such as stadium finance.  So the total revenue for the league is almost surely to top the $14 billion mark this year.
This story was linked by this NBC Sports story dated the same day.


These are the first four paragraphs of a April 26, 2017 New York Times story.  The link in the first paragraph and the tweet after the first paragraph were in their story.
The “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” as ESPN brands itself, laid off scores of journalists and on-air talent on Wednesday, showing that even the most formidable media kingdom was vulnerable to the transformation upending the sports broadcasting industry as more and more people turn away from cable television.

Among the prominent people let go were the former N.F.L. players Trent Dilfer and Danny Kanell, the former N.B.A. player Len Elmore, the former baseball general manager Jim Bowden and the longtime N.F.L. reporter Ed Werder.

ESPN is by far the biggest and most powerful entity in the sports media industry, and it has felt the sting as viewers turn away from traditional ways of consuming live sports.

The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to an eight-year, $15.2 billion deal extension with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.
Similar articles were published by these organizations.  These stories are arranged in chronological order, oldest first.
If E.S.P.N. (and other networks) are getting fewer viewers, then those networks will have less revenue from their advertisers.


These are the first six paragraphs of a July 27, 2017 E.S.P.N. article.  It included a photo, positioned after the third paragraph, of Colin Kaepernick and two other San Francisco players kneeling, which is consistent with the content of the first paragraph.
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.

After that, 24 percent of those surveyed who said they watched fewer games said they did so either because of the league's off-the-field image issues with domestic violence or with game delays, including penalties.

One in five (20 percent) listed excessive commercials and advertising as a reason, something the NFL is seeking to address by moving around traditional ad blocks.

Sixteen percent said it was because of their interest being replaced by the 2016 presidential election coverage.

Five percent said they watched fewer games because they got rid of cable.
The polling that is mentioned in the second paragraph was done during July.  This is significant because much of the political actions that are done in the United States during the fall, winter, and spring are absent during the summer.  This allows Americans to focus on what's important to them, including their families and their patriotism.


The 2017 football season

Link to a September 8, 2017 Deadline Hollywood article titled "NFL Kickoff Scores 21.8M Viewers, Down Double-Digits From 2016".

These are the first two paragraphs of a September 10, 2017 Sports Illustrated article.  It included .
The start of the NFL season is normally a pretty big deal across the country. Apparently Los Angeles and San Francisco didn't get the memo.

The Rams and 49ers each opened their season at home Sunday, and both teams had to start their games with lots of empty seats in the stadium.

The following Associated Press photo and caption were included in this September 17, 2017 Washington Post story with this headline: "Redskins fans made their presence felt at half-full Los Angeles Coliseum"
There was lots of burgundy and gold in the stands Sunday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

... because there weren't as many fans in the seats as there used to be.  Guess why.

These are the first six paragraphs of a September 19, 2017 Washington Examiner story.  The links in these paragraphs were in their story.  In the first paragraph, the word "supremacist" was spelled correctly once and misspelled once.  I don't correct anyone else's misspelled words.
ESPN host Jemele Hill is back on the air after calling President Trump a "white supremacist" who has surrounded himself with "other white supremicists" — remarks that earned her a reprimand, but not a suspension, from the network.

The Twitter-taunting and subsequent fallout comes as the sports network's ratings have taken a significant hit over the last year, starting with players' social justice protests at pre-game festivities.

Both the TV networks and the NFL are paying the penalty.

As of July 2017, ESPN's ratings already dropped 9 percent compared to the same time period last year.  Add that to an already bruising 2016 — in November 2016 alone, more than 600,000 subscribers dropped the network.

Viewership for the entire NFL is down 14 percent this year, according to Pivotal Research.  It represents an eight-year low.  Last year, ratings fell 9 percent.

Advertising spending is also down. The NFL is experiencing the worst advanced ad sales in a decade.  Not since the recession started in 2008 have revenues been this dismal.
"Not since the recession started in 2008 have revenues been this dismal."

This September 20, 2017 Fortune Magazine article discusses television and the low ratings for N.F.L. games but not the player protests.


These are the first four paragraphs of a September 20, 2017 New York Post story.  The link in the fourth paragraph was in the article.
As the NFL kicks off Week 3 with “Thursday Night Football,” team owners, TV networks and Madison Avenue are hoping it can turn around an early-season ratings dip.

Ratings in Weeks 1 and 2 were down 12 and 15 percent, respectively, according to Nielsen.

To be sure, saturation TV coverage of Hurricane Irma sapped some eyeballs from football during the first week of play.

Still, nine of the 13 NFL windows in the season-to-date posted viewership declines, Sports Media Watch reported.

The website called Sports Media Watch, linked in the last quoted paragraph of the previous story, has statistics on ratings and viewership in these six major categories, but there is no analysis of these numbers.
  • the National Football League
  • college football
  • Major League Baseball
  • auto racing, which is further broken down into
  • a category that includes tennis, college basketball, golf, boxing, mixed martial arts, horse racing, the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Olympics
  • a page that shows the ratings for individual networks' sports programming
Links to similar stories, arranged in chronological order, oldest first:

Hollywood Reporter, September 20, 2017 Business Insider, September 20, 2017
Breitbart, September 21, 2017 Chicago Tribune, September 21, 2017
Business Insider, September 22, 2017 Bloomberg, September 24, 2017
New York Times, September 25, 2017 C.B.S. News, September 25, 2017
U.S.A. Today, September 26, 2017 The Epoch Times, September 30, 2017
Note: The Epoch Times is usually printed in Chinese.  This is their page of English-language news about China.

The headline of the September 24th Bloomberg story and the September 25th C.B.S. News story mentioned Donald Trump.  As stated in my October 11, 2017 essay, any news organization that frames this issue as a dispute between the President and the N.F.L. players is ignoring the anger of the fans over the politicization of the game and the disrespect of our country's flag and national anthem.

This video was uploaded on September 26, 2017 by PennLive.com.

NFL players demand that team owners share the profits with them, but none of those same players are willing to share their own profits with the stores that sell the jerseys that have their own names on them.

Any company that has a license from the N.F.L. to manufacture any merchandise with the N.F.L. logo on it has.paid a fee to the N.F.L. in exchange for the right to manufacture that merchandise.

These are the first five paragraphs of a related September 29, 2017 story on the website of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania affiliate of Fox News television.
EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- After most of the Pittsburgh Steelers players opted to stay off the field during the national anthem before Sunday's game, one Lancaster County business is struggling to sell the team's memorabilia.

Steel City Sports in East Lampeter Township bleeds black and yellow and everything Pittsburgh.  It's a top spot for fans looking for sports memorabilia in Lancaster County.

"People come in here for their slice of hometown Pittsburgh," said owner, Susan Moedinger.

Business is hurting, though.  Moedinger says profits are down 60 percent compared to this time last year, and she blames the recent decision by Steelers' football players not to participate in the national anthem Sunday at Chicago.

"Monday morning, we began to get calls and people stopping in to say they will never shop in my store again because they were boycotting the Steelers, the NFL," she said.  "I'd say potentially they're hurting Steel City Sports, me and my family.  It's a small business, veteran owned."
This is the second sentence of the fourth paragraph.

"[Store owner Susan] Moedinger says profits are down 60 percent compared to this time last year, and she blames the recent decision by Steelers' football players not to participate in the national anthem Sunday at Chicago."


These are the first four paragraphs of an October 8, 2017 Town Hall story.
The protests sparked by former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick that caused league wide kneeling during the national anthem this past month has led to the decline in popularity of the NFL.

At one point, the NFL was America’s favorite sport, but now a recent poll shows it is the least liked sport of any top professional or college sport.

According to a poll conducted by the Winston Group, the NFL currently has a 44 percent favorability rating compared to a 40 percent unfavorable rating.

The most liked sport is baseball. Major League Baseball has a 63 percent favorability rating compared to a 16 percent unfavorable.

These are the first four paragraphs of an October 12, 2017 C.N.B.C. story.  The link in the first paragraph was in their article.
Declining football game television ratings will cut into Twenty-First Century Fox's earnings, according to one Wall Street firm.

Credit Suisse lowered its price target and earnings per share forecasts for the media company, citing Fox's poor Sunday NFL ratings.

"We trim our 2018/19 EPS forecasts … ahead of Q1 earnings," analyst Omar Sheikh wrote in a note to clients Thursday.  "The key near term headwinds are soft NFL ratings and the risk that the Sky transaction is blocked by UK regulators."

Fox is seeking to acquire the 61 percent of European pay-TV company Sky it does not already own.

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 15, 2017 Sporting News story.
No wonder alarm bells are sounding in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s office.

The league's average TV audience through Week 5 of the 2017 season dropped 7 percent vs. the same period of the 2016 season, according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News.  Worse for the league, the average game audiences are down 18 percent compared to the first five weeks of the 2015 season.

The NFL's average TV audience (including Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night games) slid to 15.156 million viewers through Week 5 of the 2017 season.  That’s down 7.42 percent from an average of 16.371 million viewers through the same period of the 2016 season, and 18 percent down from the average of 18.438 million viewers through the first five weeks of the 2015 season.

These are the first four paragraphs of an October 18, 2017 Sporting News story.  The links in these paragraphs were in their story.
Television viewership of NFL games is down significantly this season, and the trend is affecting the outlook on media companies’ stocks.

According to Nielsen data cited by ESPN.com, an average of 15 million people have watched NFL games this season, down about 7.5 percent from the 16.2 million average through Week 6 last year.

Reporting slightly different numbers, the New York Post writes that through Week 6, the NFL “continued to close the deficit of TV viewers compared with last season — albeit at a numbingly slow pace.”  Viewership of NFL games was down 12.3 percent after Week 1.
Citing the potential impact of decreasing ratings on advertising revenues, investment bank Credit Suisse lowered its projections on Fox and CBS stocks within the last week.

These are the first two paragraphs of an October 23, 2017 Forbes article.
Last year the NFL lost about a million regular season viewers versus the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  It represented about a 6 percent fall-off --enough to be easily noticed and maybe even cause a little concern, but it could be written off as a one-year blip.  I wrote about it in The NFL's Missing Million Viewers.

Last year's seepage from the dam has turned into a major break in the dam.  The league is now down about 3 million viewers per game from 2013 and 2014.  When the specific teams appearing, the scope of the telecast, and week of the season are taken into account, the decline is even more dramatic with more than 4 million viewers or in excess of 20 percent.

These are the first four paragraphs of a October 27, 2017 Fox News story about a Fox News poll.  The graphic and the link after the second paragraph was in their story.
The National Football League is taking some hits these days.   A new Fox News Poll finds that since 2013, the league’s favorable rating has dropped 18 points.

Today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the N.F.L. while 41 percent view it negatively.   Four years ago (the last time the question was asked), 64 percent had a positive view of the league and 19 percent were critical.

nflpoll1

READ THE FULL POLL RESULTS.

“If the NFL were a political candidate, alarm bells would be going off in campaign headquarters,” says Democratic Pollster Chris Anderson who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Pollster Daron Shaw.

"Today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the N.F.L. while 41 percent view it negatively."
This is the first sentence in the second paragraph.

"Today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the N.F.L. while 41 percent view it negatively."

Link to a similar story, published the same day, by The Sporting News.

Disapproval of the players by the fans always leads to reduced numbers of television viewers.  These are the first four paragraphs of a October 27, 2017 Sporting News story.  The link after the second paragraph and the link in the fourth paragraph were in their story.
The NFL's once-golden network TV numbers continue to drop.

NFL games averaged 15.1 million viewers through Week 7, according to Nielsen data obtained by Sporting News. That's down 5.1 percent from 15.87 million viewers during the same period last season and off 18.7 percent from 18.35 million viewers during the same period in 2015.

MORE: Sources say more ESPN layoffs coming

Viewership numbers are lagging for a variety of reasons, not least the ongoing protests during the national anthem that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began in 2016. Fans are still angry about Kaepernick’s continued unemployment as well as what's seen as the growing politicization of the NFL.

In addition, President Donald Trump continues to attack the league for not forcing all players to stand during the anthem. Commissioner Roger Goodell and player reps met last week to seek a way forward, but there wasn’t much progress, and players continue to protest.
As long as N.F.L. players continue to protest, without any punishment by the team owners or by the N.F.L. Commissioner, the fans will continue to stay away from live games and televised games.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Boycott the National Football League - updates


This page has news stories that were published after my original blog page was published on October 6, 2017.  The first two news stories, dated October 5th and October 8th, were on the original page until I moved them to this page.  The first news story was published before my essay, but I didn't see it until after I published it, so that's the reason why I'm including it here.


The N.A.A.C.P. agrees with most of America

This section was added October 18, 2017.

The N.A.A.C.P. is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  These are the first three paragraphs of an August 23, 2017 Fox News story. The links in these paragraphs were in their story.
The interim head of the NAACP Wednesday requested a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss why free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by any team.

Kaepernick attracted national attention last season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers when he refused to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest police brutality against African-Americans.  Kaepernick attracted further controversy when he praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, as well as the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the letter to Goodell, NAACP Interim President Derrick Johnson claimed Kaepernick was being blackballed for his advocacy.

"As outlined in your office's public statement, [Kaepernick's] act of dissent is well within the National Football League's stated bylaws," Johnson wrote.  "Yet, as the NFL season quickly approaches, Mr. Kaepernick has spent an unprecedented amount of time as a free agent, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is no sheer coincidence."

"No player should be victimized and discriminated against because of his exercise of free speech — to do so is in violation of his rights under the Constitution and the NFL's own regulations," Johnson added.
This organization and the fans who are protesting the N.F.L. kneelers agree that Colin Kaepernick and the other kneelers are not violating the terms of the N.F.L. policies.  We also agree that Colin Kaepernick has spent a long time without playing for any N.F.L. team.

America disagrees with this organization on these issues.
  1. America believes that football games are meant to be an athletic contest conducted under the rules of the sport.  These rules are enforced by referees who take a pledge to enforce those rules without regard to the names of the players or the teams that they play for.  This policy makes these referees color-blind and deliberately ignorant of any social or political causes that Mr. Kaepernick and his friends might care about.

  2. America believes that Colin's political statements (sitting or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem) are inappropriate for a color-blind athletic contest.

  3. America believes that the wording of the N.F.L. rules does technically permit the players to kneel during the playing of the Nation Anthem, but the kneeling players are violating the spirit of the rules.

  4. America believes that because Colin has violated the spirit of the rules of the sport, it is appropriate for all of the team owners to decline to hire this political activist who is masquerading as a football player.  This player has used his highly-visible actions to promote political causes that do not belong on the field, or indeed, anywhere in any stadium.
This organization's interim President didn't say this in his statement, but America believes that the N.F.L. Commissioner should, with the approval of a majority of the owners, change the N.F.L. rules so that players are required to stand for the National Anthem.

As I told someone on Twitter a moment ago (3pm E.S.T. October 18th), I truly hope that Colin retires from professional football and chooses, instead, to run for public office, preferably the U.S. House or the Senate.  This choice would give him and his N.F.L. friends an opportunity to find out what America thinks of their protests.


The NFL Player's Association contributes to leftist groups

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 5, 2017 Washington Times story. The links in these paragraphs were in their story.
Even before its feud over the national anthem with President Trump, the NFL Players Association wasn’t on the same political team as many of its fans, judging from its contributions to leftist advocacy groups.

Tax documents released by 2ndVote show the NFLPA donated $5,000 in 2015 to the Center for Community Change Action, a group active in the anti-Trump resistance and bankrolled by a host of liberal foundations, including top Democratic donor George Soros’s Foundation for Open Society.

A member of the AFL-CIO, the NFLPA also contributed in 2013 and 2015 to Working America, the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate, which Open Secrets said spent $1 million in 2016 to defeat Trump.
The previous news story mentions a website called 2nd Vote.  This is their website, with a similar story on it, dated the next day (October 6, 2017).  The 2nd Vote website has a link to this 2015 I.R.S. PDF-format document, which is a tax return for an organization that is exempt from paying income taxes under the provisions of IRS Code Section 501(c), Section 527, or Section 4947(a)(1).  The first page of this 45-page document is on the right.
The Canada Free Press published a similar story on October 12, 2017.  The facts in their story are well-documented.

The previous document was filed in 2015 by the National Football League Player's Association.  This organization claims that they are exempt from paying income taxes because they fit the definition of one of these exempt organizations.


The hypocrisy of the owner of an NFL team

These are the first four paragraphs of an October 8, 2017 Dallas Morning News story.
ARLINGTON -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that any of his players who disrespect the flag during the national anthem won't play in games.

Jones is the first NFL owner to publicly make a stand about disciplining players who kneel during the anthem.  Jones didn't specify what kind of other demonstration he would consider disrespectful.

Cowboys defensive linemen Damontre' Moore and David Irving stood alongside teammates during the national anthem before Sunday's home game against Green Bay at AT&T Stadium.  At the conclusion of the anthem, the two players raised their fists.

"I don't know about that.  But if there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag then we will not play," Jones said after the Cowboys' 35-31 loss.  "You understand?  If we are disrespecting the flag then we won't play.  Period."
This is the first sentence of the previous story.

"Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that any of his players who disrespect the flag during the national anthem won't play in games."

This statement is questionable because Jerry Jones disrespected the flag himself at a game, as reported by this September 25, 2017 Associated Press story, which was found on the ESPN website.  The following photo was included in a similar story on an NBC News website.


Refusing to stand when the National Anthem is played is disrespecting the National Anthem.

The real heros are the members of the U.S. military who have risked their lives to fight the enemies of our country.

The American flag represents the country that Glen and many others love.  Anthems are pieces of music that praise something.  The National Anthem praises the United States.  Glen loves his country.  I love it, too, so I will honor people like Glen who honor my country with their military service and I will dishonor people like Colin who dishonor my country by kneeling when he and every other player should be standing.


The consistent principles of an ice hockey coach

These are the first five paragraphs of a September 7, 2016 Pioneer Press story about the U.S. ice hockey team.
It would seem if Wild players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — any player on Team USA for that matter — want to play in the World Cup of Hockey, they won’t be sitting in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

With the competition scheduled to start in 10 days, Team USA coach John Tortorella made himself very clear to SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn that standing for the national anthem is an expectation.

“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” Tortorella told Cohn.
John Tortorella, the coach of the U.S. ice hockey team, honors our country, so I am honoring him here.

Colin Kaepernick and the other N.F.L. players who refuse to stand for the National Anthem are dishonoring the country that I love, so I will not honor them here.

I meant to call him Colin Crap-ernick.


The Commissioner of the National Football League

These are the first five paragraphs of an October 10, 2017 CNN story.  The first paragraph had a larger font.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league needs to "move past this controversy" over the National Anthem.

In a letter to team executives that was obtained by CNNMoney, Goodell wrote that the dispute "is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country."

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," he wrote. "It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us."

The National Anthem protest began in 2016 when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than stand as the song played. He used the demonstration as a way to speak out against the treatment of black Americans, particularly by police.

Since then more players have joined the protest.
I will discuss the unbalanced reporting standards a bit later.  For now, I want to highlight the first paragraph, which states that the NFL Commissioner wants the league (the National Football League) to change.  Specifically, he wants the league to "move past this controversy."

There;s only one problem.  The Commissioner can only affect the NFL audience and their ability to spend money on tickets, jerseys, and other merchandise indirectly.  That means that he can only affect the league's revenue indirectly, and that means that he can';t "move past the controversy" until the number of people who disagree, loudly and with their actions, is dramatically reduced.  This hasn't been done because the Commissioner is avoiding any responsibility for his own actions, or more accurately, his lack of action.

In fact, the Commissioner misspoke when he said that the league needs to "move past this controversy."  He meant to say that he wants the NFL fans to "move past this controversy" by buying game tickets and NFL-licensed merchandise, such as jerseys, which would reverse the sharp downtrend of the weekly income of the teams and the league.

The previous CNN story was published in the evening of October 10, 2017.  As reported by a CNN story that was published the next morning, the N.F.L. Commissioner didn't use the power of his office to make any new policies or to enforce some old ones.  These are the 2nd through the 5th paragraphs of the October 11 story.  The capitalized words that are shown in the story were capitalized in their story.
Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is now ordering that all players stand during the national anthem.

"It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY," he said in an early-morning tweet.

The only problem is, Goodell stopped well short of demanding or ordering players to stand.

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," said Goodell in letter sent to teams on Tuesday.  "We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us."  He said it is important that the league "move past this controversy."
This is the first sentence in the fifth paragraph, with the link removed.

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," said Goodell in letter sent to teams on Tuesday.'

He was stating his personal opinion, and he stated that he shared this opinion with "many of our fans", but Roger Goodell has a power that fans do not have.  He can force teams to fine players for violating existing rules.

These are the first six paragraphs of an October 10, 2017 Sporting News story.
President Donald Trump may soon get his wish.

NFL owners will discuss potential changes to the league's national anthem policy next week during the league's fall meeting in New York.  One possibility is requiring players to stand on the sideline during the pregame ceremony or face league discipline.

"This will be a chance to discuss this issue, look at the policy and hear any ideas if we need to change,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said Tuesday on a media conference call.  "I fully expect this will be front and center on the agenda."

The NFL's game operations manual states that during the anthem “players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking … It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country.

"Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses."

The key word in the policy is "should" rather than "must," which has kept the door open for players to kneel or sit during the anthem as a form of protest.  The NFL also has not levied fines through the first five weeks of the season toward players and teams that haven't followed the anthem rules.
This is the first sentence in the last quoted paragraph.

'The key word in the policy is "should" rather than "must," which has kept the door open for players to kneel or sit during the anthem as a form of protest.'

The reporter is absolutely correct.  The key word in the policy, expressed in the NFL's game operations manual, is the word "should".  This one word does "keep the door open" for players to kneel or sit.  I call that the discretion of the NFL Commissioner.  He has the power, if he wishes to use it, to require teams to require their players to honor the American flag and the National Anthem, or he can use his discretion to allow players to kneel or to put a fist into the air as a protest.


These are the first six paragraphs of an October 12, 2017 Detroit News story.
Don’t blame Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for the demise of the National Football League.

Blame commissioner Roger Goodell.

Six weeks into the 2016 season, the NFL’s TV ratings are falling off a cliff.  The league just last week issued a memo trying to placate angry advertisers and sponsors, faulting the steep ratings decline (by more than 10 percent) on the contentious presidential race and lackluster early-season matchups.

It did everything but address the elephant in the room—fan anger from the NFL’s self-inflicted protest crisis.

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to take a seat (later, a knee) during the playing of the national anthem, the NFL could have done something about it—fine, suspend or discipline him.  But NFL commissioner Goodell took a pass.  As a result, Kaepernick’s protest has mushroomed from a one-man show into somewhat of a league-wide phenomenon, with many players on several other teams following suit.

But before you cite that Kaepernick has the First Amendment right to protest what he perceives to be “oppression” against the nation’s minorities, remember this—he has the First Amendment right to yell the N-word, too.  Kaepernick reportedly did that during a 2014 game against the Chicago Bears and was fined over $5,000 by the league.
This is the last quoted sentence in the previous Detroit News story.

"Kaepernick reportedly did that during a 2014 game against the Chicago Bears and was fined over $5,000 by the league."

The National Football Leaque also fined him $10,000, as recorded in the first two paragraphs of an October 9, 2014 A.B.C. News story.  The linkS in the first paragraph were in their story.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick thumbed his nose at authority following Sunday's victory by wearing Beats by Dre headphones around his neck after the NFL signed an exclusive agreement with Bose.

And while his headphones were bright pink, purportedly to pay homage to Breast Cancer Awareness, Kaepernick paid for the indiscretion. He said Thursday the league fined him $10,000.
Colin Crap-ernick said himself that "the league" (the National Football League) fined him.

The Commissioner of the National Football League does have the power to fine players for their behavior on the field, so the Commissioner does have toe power to fine players for sitting, kneeling, or other displays of disrespect to the American flag and our National Anthem.

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 29, 2017 E.S.P.N. story
The Cowboys' Jerry Jones was a leading voice among 17 NFL owners on a conference call Thursday that discussed the possibility of halting commissioner Roger Goodell's pending contract extension, sources involved with the call told ESPN.

There is a growing difference of opinion among owners about Goodell's overall performance as commissioner, according to sources.  The owners on Thursday's conference call are generally unhappy with Goodell and the NFL's front office for a variety of reasons, including the player protests staged during the national anthem, issues regarding the relocation of teams to Los Angeles and the league's handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, according to sources.

"You don't get to have this many messes over the years like Roger has had and survive it," one owner said during the call.
This is the second sentence of the second paragraph.

"The owners on Thursday's conference call are generally unhappy with Goodell and the NFL's front office for a variety of reasons, including the player protests staged during the national anthem, issues regarding the relocation of teams to Los Angeles and the league's handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, according to sources."


Hiding the truth from the public

These are the first five paragraphs of an October 14, 2017 Washington Examiner story.  Both of these links were in their story.
Fox and ESPN do not plan to air the national anthem live during this weekend's and Monday night's games.

The networks don't usually air the pre-game ritual live except during major events, but began showing it after President Trump lashed out against players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, CNN reported.

Mike Pence pushed the controversy back into the forefront when he left the Indianapolis Colts-San Francisco 49ers game Sunday when several 49ers kneeled during the anthem.
Even if networks don't show the National Anthem to their viewers, how hard is it for a news organization to send a reporter to a game long enough to find out whether any players are kneeling?  Any network that does that would still have a responsibility to their public.


Highly-questionable journalism standards

It is now the right time to discuss the biased reporting of this issue by CNN.  These are the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the October 10, 2017 CNN story which I quoted earlier on this page.
The National Anthem protest began in 2016 when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than stand as the song played. He used the demonstration as a way to speak out against the treatment of black Americans, particularly by police.

Since then more players have joined the protest.
These are the next three paragraphs of the same story.
President Trump decried the kneeling protests during a campaign-style rally in Alabama in September. Trump said that any players who refused to stand should be fired.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.  Out!  He's fired.  He's fired!'" the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who went on to lose.

After Trump's attack, hundreds of players joined the protest and the NFL promoted the message that it was unified.  Several owners released statements criticizing the president's comments and some locked arms with their players during the anthem.
If the opinion of one man, even the U.S. President, is CNN's way of showing a balanced view of this issue, their journalistic standards are very low.  I frequently saw a very different terminology in use by mainstream news organizations like CNN when Barak Obama was the President.  They referred to his opinions as coming from "the White House", "The President", or "the Administration", but in the October 10, 2017 story, the President is referred to by his given name, not by his title or by any generic term such as "The White House".

For example, these are the first four paragraphs of a June 22, 2010 CNN story.
(CNN) -- The fate of the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan hinges on his meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama, who was "angry" after reading the general's remarks about colleagues in a magazine profile to be published Friday.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal will likely resign, a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general said.

The "magnitude and graveness" of McChrystal's mistake in conducting the interview for the article were "profound," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said McChrystal had "made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment."

McChrystal apologized Tuesday for the profile, in which he and his staff appear to mock top civilian officials, including the vice president. Two defense officials said the general fired a press aide over the article, set to appear in Friday's edition of Rolling Stone.
Please notice that although Obama is called "angry" in the story, the expected firing of General McChrystal is not being announced at a Presidential news conference, where he would have to accept the responsibility for his own action (firing the general).  Instead, the personnel action was announced by "a Pentagon source", an anonymous and a very generic term.  Please also note that Obama's reaction was communicated to the public by the White House Press Secretary, another level of distance between Obama and the public.  I wrote about this two years ago in my essay titled The gap between Obama and America on my main blog.

These are the first two paragraphs of a November 8, 2013 CNN story.  The link in the first paragraph was in their story.
President Barack Obama's apology to Americans whose health insurance is being canceled over the Affordable Care Act raises questions about how to fix that problem -- even as his administration scrambles to overcome a shaky website slowing down those who want to sign up for coverage.

Obama's now promised to address both issues fully, already putting a website fix in motion with the goal of offering a much smoother shopping and buying experience for consumers by month's end.
Please notice that in the first paragraph, CNN refers to Obama as "President Barack Obama".  Please also note that the second paragraph shows him taking action when he was justifiably and widely criticized for the failure of the Obamacare law to reduce the cost of medical care and to allow people to keep their own doctor.

There are unbalanced journalism standards in other places, too.  This September 26, 2017 editorial in Investor's Business Daily, written by a nationally-syndicated radio talk-show host named Dennis Prager, also fails to mention the fans who are boycotting the games and refusing to buy N.F.L. merchandise.


Two N.F.L. fans speak truth to power

This section was added on October 16, 2017.

These are the last four paragraphs of an August 30, 2016 open letter to Colin Kaepernick that was published on the Army Times website.
I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.

Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that "the last thing our country needed right now was more hate." As usual, she’s right.

There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind.

I look forward to the day you're inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I'll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.
This is the description of the author that appears on the Army Times web page.  The text was italicized.  The links were included on the page.
Former Staff Sgt. Nate Boyer made multiple war-zone deployments as a Green Beret, including during the college football offseason while a student-athlete at the University of Texas.  After long-snapping for the Longhorns, he was signed as a free agent by the Seattle Seahawks before the 2015 season.  He is involved in multiple charitable causes, including Merging Vets and Players with Jay Glazer and Waterboys, founded by New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long.
These are the first four paragraphs of a September 27, 2017 column on the U.S.A. Today website.  The link in these paragraphs were in his column.
Remember when you could enjoy pro football without getting lectured on politics? Not any more.

The NFL is on a politically correct suicide course, alienating fans and wrecking ratings.  It can thank former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year started the fad of refusing to stand for the pre-game national anthem because he did not want to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

This year the flag protests are a mass phenomenon, with more than 200 players taking a knee last week.  Members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars appearing at London’s Wembley Stadium even chose to dishonor the U.S. flag on foreign soil.  But they stood for God Save the Queen, the anthem that was playing when most of Africa was placed under British colonial rule.  These jocks probably were not history majors.

Defenders of the kneelers say the protest is itself an expression of Americanism, invoking the First Amendment and tradition of dissent.  But this is not a First Amendment issue.  Employers are allowed to regulate speech in the workplace.  The NFL's personal conduct policy says all employees “must refrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL,” which these protests surely are.  The league regularly clamps down on social messaging, such as wearing cleats commemorating the heroes of the 9/11 attacks or decals honoring slain Dallas law enforcement officers.  Taking a knee for God can also be problematic, just ask Tim Tebow.  But the anthem protests are explicitly league-sanctioned activities.

A preview of the annual N.F.L. meeting

This section was added October 18, 2017.

These are the first two paragraphs of an October 10, 2017 New York Daily News story.
The NFL is clearly getting a little too uncomfortable with national anthem protests.

In a letter to NFL presidents and chief executives Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell said the protests, started last year to raise awareness about racial injustice, will be a discussion point at next week's owner's meeting. He did not ask them to prevent their players from demonstrating.
The next two paragraphs of this story quoted the letter that was sent by Commissioner Goodell to the owners and players.  The section on this page that deals with the Commissioner shows his bias in favor of the players and against the wishes of a very large cross-section of America, which wants to be able to watch a football game without seeing any political statements.

Similar stories were reported the same day by the Washington Post, Deadline Hollywood, The Bleacher Report, The Boston Herald, and NBC Sports.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Guardian (U.K.) reported a similar story the next day.

As correctly reported by the Daily News reporter, Roger's October 10 statement shows Roger's unwillingness to use the power of his office to force any of the players to live up to the standards of the game.

"He did not ask them to prevent their players from demonstrating."

Why should any protesting player offer to end his protest if the Commissioner won't even ask him to end it?  The Commissioner's lack of a request to end the protest is a clear sign that the Commissioner doesn't want the protest to end.  As I explained earlier on this page, when Roger Goodell says that he wants the league to "move past this controversy", he's actually saying that he wants the fans to "move past this controversy" by buying tickets, jerseys, and other items that produce income for the league and the players even if many of the players are kneeling for the National Anthem.


Colin's legal action against the N.F.L.

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 E.S.P.N. story.  The links in these paragraphs were in the story.
Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance under the latest collective bargaining agreement against NFL owners for collusion, according to his attorney, Mark Geragos.

Kaepernick is not going through the NFL Players Association but has instead hired Geragos, who has represented several high-profile clients, including Michael Jackson, former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield and musician Chris Brown.

The filing, which demands an arbitration hearing on the matter, says the NFL and its owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."
These are the first two paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 Sports Illustrated story.  The links in these paragraphs were in the story.
According to multiple sources, free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion.  In March, I wrote a legal analysis of this scenario occurring and explained how it would work for Kaepernick and the NFL.  The March article details the relevant procedures at play and how they are governed by the collective bargaining agreement.  Yesterday, I wrote an update, detailing 16 key points.

Another update:  According to Pro Football Weekly’s Mike Florio, a source with knowledge of the situation tells him that Kaepernick would like to use his grievance to terminate the CBA.  It would be a jaw-dropping outcome for Kaepernick’s grievance to lead to the termination of the CBA, which is set to run through the 2020 season.  It is also unlikely to happen.
The Sports Illustrated reporter then quotes parts of the 316-page Collective Bargaining Agreement to show why Colin is unlikely to terminate it.  For example, collusion by a minimum of 14 teams is necessary to terminate the agreement.  It is unlikely that clear and convincing evidence will be presented in a court of law that 14 teams were guilty of it.

In addition, according to the reporter, who seems to have done his homework, the agreement itself states that in order to terminate the agreement, the N.F.L. Player's Association must file the grievance, not one individual player, so the terms of the agreement seem to prevent Colin (one individual player) from getting his wish granted.

People who are required to "do their homework" in the legal field are called lawyers.  These are the first four paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 U.S.A. Today story. The link in the first paragraph was in their story.  The word "baseball" was misspelled in the third paragraph.  I don't correct misspelled words in other people's articles when I copy them and paste them onto these blog pages.
In order to win his collusion grievance against NFL owners, Colin Kaepernick will need to prove a pattern of communication with and between teams that led to his current unemployment, a labor law expert told USA TODAY Sports.

“He’s going to have to show some kind of pattern -- of dealings with the clubs, where clubs were aware that he was willing and able to work, where there was some sort of communication with him and then unexplained reasons went elsewhere,” said William Gould, the Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Stanford University.

Gould is the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and a former salary arbitrator for Major League Basebal, as well as the author of the book Bargaining in Baseball.

He called Kaepernick’s collusion grievance, which was filed by the quarterback’s lawyers over the weekend, a “landmark development” not just for the NFL, but for professional sports in general.  The outcome of this case could have far-reaching effects beyond what it means for Kaepernick individually.
Let's see.  Colin failed to show superior skill on the football field, so this aging activist has now decided to fail at being a self-appointed lawyer.  What will he decide to fail doing tomorrow?

Link to a page about Colin on the personal web page of Sarah Palin.  This page is dated November 4, 2017.


The annual N.F.L. meeting (before before it starts)

These are the first three paragraphs of ab October 16, 2017 Sports Illustrated story.
The NFL meets every fall for a day and a half to discuss league business. This week, on Tuesday in New York, owners will gather and hear from players and NFL Players Association representatives on the contentious matter of players standing at attention for the national anthem. The league has said it will try to devise a plan that would build a bridge with players and assist on their social-justice causes so they’ll stand as one. Advertisers getting major guff from their customers don’t want to continue to take a hailstorm of criticism from those who don’t like anything but what they perceive to be a show of total loyalty toward the flag.

What I learned in the past few days:
1. This could be a seminal moment for the tenure of commissioner Roger Goodell. There’s no sense his job will be in trouble if he doesn’t come out of this meeting with a strong proposal that the players and clubs will adopt. But if there is no significant progress toward an endgame here, I believe some owners could ask by meeting’s end, Are we sure we want to extend Goodell’s contract five years?  That’s the current length of the extension Goodell is discussing with the league’s compensation committee—and they’re far down the road in the contract talks.

2. Goodell doesn’t have the kind of political capital with the players, or the players union, to call in any favors to get a deal done that will compel every player in the league either to stand for the national anthem or to not protest while it’s being played.
Let me paraphrase the last paragraph.  N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell can't force any of the players to stand for the National Anthem.  I shouldn't need to tell anyone how the fans will react when they see the bottom line - some players continuing to disrespect our veterans, our flag, and our country by kneeling, sitting, or being absent in large numbers when.the National Anthem plays.

The annual N.F.L. meeting (after the first day)

These are the first three paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 C.N.N. story.
They're gathering in New York for two days of meetings, with the league convulsed by player protests during the National Anthem -- and by opposition to the protests, led by President Trump himself.

Team owners are expected to discuss the protests. But an NFL spokesman says the league does not expect to change its policy, which says only that players should stand during the Anthem, not that they must.

After Tuesday's meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that players were not asked to commit to standing for the anthem.
Similar stories on other websites.  These stories are arranged in chronological order, oldest first.
U.S.A. Today, October 17, 2017 Reuters, October 17, 2017, published on the A.O.L. News website
CBS Sports, October 17, 2017 Chicago Sun-Times, October 18, 2017
NBC News, October 18, 2017 ABC News, October 18, 2017
During this meeting, which began on October 17, 2017 and will continue on October 18th, the team owners can show up in person to speak up for their best interests.  Representatives of the N.F.L. Player's Association are also present at this meeting, to represent the best interests of the players, as a group, but there aren't any representatives of the fans and ex-fans.

These are the first four paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 C.B.S. News story.  The link in the first paragraph was in their story.
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he thinks NFL players should stop protesting during the national anthem and instead speak out against domestic violence.

The Republican former presidential hopeful sent a letter Monday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith saying he believes players are showing disrespect for the flag and veterans.  Players should drop the "divisive political sideshow" and speak out against domestic violence instead, the governor wrote.

NFL league meetings Tuesday offer an opportunity to strongly condemn domestic violence, Walker added.

"My request is simple: stand for the American flag and the national anthem out of respect for those who risk their lives for our freedoms, and then take a stand against domestic violence to keep American families safe," Walker wrote.  "That's something we can all agree on, and that just might help the NFL reunite with many of its devoted fans."
Scott Walker is the formal representative of the people of Wisconsin whenever that state interacts with businesses who want to move into or out of that state, even if the incoming businesses are located in other countries.

This is the last sentence of the October 16, 2017 C.N.N. story, which is also the last paragraph of that story.

"After Tuesday's meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that players were not asked to commit to standing for the anthem."

... which means that the public will continue to spend large amounts of their money outside of N.F.L. stadiums and stores that sell N.F.L.-licensed merchandise.  Fans do not have a representative at the N.F.L. meeting, so if the N.F.L. Commissioner chooses to ignore the wishes of Governor Walker and other N.F.L. fans and ex-fans, he can, but that foolish decision will continue to cost the league some of its' economic benefits.

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell has already proven that he listens to and cares for the N.F.L. players much more than the fans.  He has already granted the players a big wish.  These are the first four paragraphs of an October 16, 2017 C.B.S. News story.  The links in these paragraphs were in their story.
Protests around professional sports have been nothing if not polarizing, especially considering President Donald Trump's persistent war of words with athletes who use the national anthem as a platform for activism, but player demonstrations may have fueled NFL support for legislative change at the federal level.

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported two weeks ago that Roger Goodell has maintained a steady dialogue since this summer with many civic-minded players, including Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles, Michael Bennett of the Seahawks and Anquan Boldin, who abruptly retired before the season.  Goodell and the players have been working on ways that the NFL can assist them in their community endeavors, an effort that began well before the president made remarks critical of NFL players.

And, now, it appears those efforts have grown into formal league action.

ESPN's Jim Trotter reported via Twitter Monday that "the NFL is going to formally endorse criminal justice legislation" that surfaced early in October and has garnered support from several players "lobbying for" reformed sentencing guidelines.  NFL Network's Judy Battista later confirmed via league spokesman Joe Lockhart that the NFL would do so.
This is the second sentence in the second paragraph.

"Goodell and the players have been working on ways that the NFL can assist them in their community endeavors, an effort that began well before the president made remarks critical of NFL players."

If there aren't any representatives from the Governors, members of Congress, or any representatives of the fans who buy game tickets and N.FL.L-licensed merchandise, then nobody has any standing (a legal term that means a right to be represented) to speak up for the public at these meetings.  This means that nobody can tell the N.F.L. Commissioner that paying for liberal (or even radical) social justice advertising is a bad idea.

This tweet was posted on October 22, 2017 by a reporter for NFL.com and the Twitter account @NFLNetwork.  If you click on the date at the end of the tweet, you will be able to see it on his Twitter account.
The tweet included a photo of the stadium and the airplane.  Thank you to the Twitter account @Conservative_Tribune for writing about it and for retweeting Tom's tweet..


Neil McCoy adds his musical voice

This section was added November 18, 2017.

These are the first three paragraphs of a November 17, 2017 story in The Hill.  The link in the second paragraph was in their story.
A country music singer is taking aim at the NFL protests in a new song called “Take a Knee, My Ass (I Won’t Take a Knee).”

Neal McCoy performed the song for an audience earlier this month and recorded it on Facebook Live. The video of the performance has garnered nearly 70,000 reactions.

“When I see someone on TV take their stand by bending their knee, whether it be on astro turf or grass," McCoy sings. "I think of those whose freedom was not free, and I say: ‘Take a knee – my ass!’”
This YouTube video was uploaded by Neal McCoy on November 14, 2017 (four days before I wrote this section).

This video has already been watched almost 50,000 times as of the date that I wrote this section.


Herschel Walker adds his Heisman-Trophy-winning voice

This section was added November 20, 2017.

These are the first five paragraphs of a November 19, 2017 New York Post story.  The link in the second paragraph was in their story.
Herschel Walker, the ex-NFL luminary, is firing on all cylinders for America’s military heroes and first responders — hot on the heels of his recent criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for not quelling the national anthem protests.

Walker’s latest patriotic fervor comes with a super prize for a hero of the US uniformed and emergency services: a free customized, hand-painted, American-made 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, worth $80,000.

“I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” he said.

“I know people are going to be angry when I say it, but he should have stopped the protests at the very beginning.”

The Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t beat around the bush. “Guys, let me tell you this,” he said. “Our flag is very special, and black lives matter, but what we should do is go to Washington after the season and protest there instead. We have young men and women fighting for the flag. And we have to respect the White House.”
Hershel will donate a customized Chevrolet Silverado, worth $80,000, to a military hero or a first-responder.

This is the third paragraph.

“I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” he said.

The Fox News website reproduced the New York Post story.

This November 19, 2017 Breitbart article includes a link to the New York Post story and a copy of the same 1983 photo of Hershel and Donald Trump that was in the New York Post story.
Link to Hershel's page on the N.F.L. website.  It includes his playing statistics during his 12-year career.

Link to Hershel's page on the Heisman Trophy website.

The 6-minute YouTube video on the right was uploaded by the Fox News affiliate in Los Angeles on November 17, 2015.


David Clarke adds his law enforcement voice

This section was added December 2, 2017.


A retired Marine colonel adds his voice

This section was added December 6, 2017.

On September 27, 2016, Allen West, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and a former U.S. Representative posted  an open letter from a Marine Colonel to the N.F.L. Commissioner verbatim and with only a two-sentence introduction.  These are the first five paragraphs of it.
I’ve been a season pass holder at Yankee Stadium, Yale Bowl and Giants Stadium.

I missed the ’90-’91 season because I was with a battalion of Marines in Desert Storm. 14 of my wonderful Marines returned home with the American Flag draped across their lifeless bodies. My last conversation with one of them, Sgt Garrett Mongrella, was about how our Giants were going to the Super Bowl. He never got to see it.

Many friends, Marines, and Special Forces Soldiers who worked with or for me through the years returned home with the American Flag draped over their coffins.

Now I watch multi-millionaire athletes who never did anything in their lives but play a game, disrespect what brave Americans fought and died for. They are essentially spitting in the faces and on the graves of real men, men who have actually done something for this country beside playing with a ball and believing they’re something special! They’re not! My Marines and Soldiers were!

You are complicit in this!
The following tweet alerted me to a video that included most of this message.

This YouTube video, found in the tweet that is reproduced above, was uploaded on September 27, 2017.

Thank you to the person who registered the Twitter account "RudiTuesdays" for bringing it to my attention.


The Governor of Texas is responsible for a whole state

This section was added December 11, 2017.


Conclusions

As long as CNN and other widely-read news organizations treat Donald Trump differently than they treated Barak Obama, by referring to Donald by his name instead of his title, CNN and these other organizations will lose credibility and readers.

As long as these news organizations consider Dona'd's opinions and Governor Walker's opinions to be the only opposition to NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem, then they will, by definition, ignore the opinions of the fans who used to buy game tickets, jerseys, and other NFL merchandise.

This ignorance of a majority of America's opinions will inevitably result in an inability to explain why the National Football League has less income than it did last year.

The half-hour video on the right was sent to YouTube September 27, 2017.  It shows some of the people who have publicly destroyed their N.F.L. jerseys since the players began their protests.

When more news stories about the player protests and the fan's counter-protests are published, they may be added to this page.