- - Monday, October 2, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A few years from now, business schools will offer case studies on how the NFL went from the most successful franchise in American sports to just another sport in the middle. Actually, they will be in the middle at best.

The NFL had been a tradition in my house, much to the chagrin of my family, for a very long time.  Sundays featured the early NFL game, the late afternoon NFL game and Sunday Night Football. Then there was Monday Night Football and Thursday night as well.

My disaffection with the NFL began in 2014. On Nov. 30th, 2014, five members of the then St. Louis Rams entered the game, making the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture.  The hands up, don’t shoot story was a lie about the shooting of Michael Brown.

The very next day, the NFL announced it would not discipline the five players involved.

As isolated protests continued, my level of satisfaction with the NFL began to drop. 

2016 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, a supporter of the radical Black Lives Matters movement, opened fire on police officers in Dallas who were providing security for a Black Lives Matters rally. Johnson, a racist, said he wanted to kill white people, particularly white police officers, killed five police officers.

The Dallas community was shocked by the horrific slaughter of police officers, and Jason Whitten of the Dallas Cowboys wanted to create a decal to be worn on the helmets of the Cowboys, honoring the police officers who fell.

The NFL rejected that request to honor the slain Dallas police officers.

That was the end.  That weekend, I turned off the NFL and have not turned the NFL back on. If I had any doubts about my decision, they were erased a couple of weeks later. Then-Tennessee Titan Avery Williamson wanted to wear commemorative cleats on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, that would be auctioned for charity later.

The NFL again said no.

While the NFL was saying no to honoring slain police officers and allowing players to honor the fallen of 9/11, it was falling all over itself to protect Colin Kaepernick and his taking a knee to protest America and the national anthem.

If 2016 was a bad year for the NFL, 2017 is turning into a disaster.  The kneeling protests have spread as the players choose to support the radical, racist, violent Black Lives Matters movement and offend its own fan base in the process. 

According to the Nielsen ratings, the NFL ratings are down 11 percent from last year. YouTube now has videos of fans burning their NFL team jerseys. A sports bar in Kentucky is even sponsoring an event where people can come and burn their jerseys. Another business is pulling its ads from the NFL.

Where does the NFL go from here?

The NFL seems to have doubled down on stupid. Instead of telling the players they will show up on the sidelines for the national anthem, stand up, place their hand over their hearts and be respectful; the NFL seems to want the hemorrhaging to continue.

Even the National Basketball Association has learned the lesson, telling its players they will stand for the national anthem.

Many blame the NFL’s woes on President Trump. He certainly picked a public fight with the league and he won the fight.  But the problem the NFL has is much deeper than President Trump. Most Americans do not want their sports to be politicized. They want sports to be something that unifies the nation and something that they can enjoy as an escape from politics.

The NFL can’t seem to find an answer. At least not one that it is willing to execute. 

Meanwhile, in a lot of American households, the NFL has been turned off.  And it is unlikely it will ever be turned back on.

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