- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2017

None of the players took a knee during the national anthem at Thursday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers after a week that saw the NFL’s brand take a beating.

A Morning Consult tracking poll released Friday found that the NFL’s net favorability plummeted from 30 to 17 percent from Sept. 21-28, marking a new low since the service began tracking the league brand.

The drop came after about 200 players sat or knelt during the national anthem at last weekend’s games in response from President Trump, prompting a backlash from some fans.

The damage to the NFL brand was worse among Trump supporters: As of Sept. 21, 25 percent had a “very favorable” view of the NFL, but only 16 percent did as of Sept. 28, according to Morning Consult.

During the same period, Trump backers with a “very unfavorable” view of the NFL rose from 11 to 33 percent.

“There is no other way to slice the data — the NFL brand has dropped precipitously since the ‘take a knee’ controversy,” said Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson on Legal Insurrection.

In what may be a sign of things to come, players and coaches for both teams stood and locked arms during the national anthem Thursday, a display that Packers players described in a letter to fans as a show of unity.

A CNN poll released Friday found adults split on the issue: 49 percent said NFL players were doing the “wrong thing” by kneeling during the national anthem, while 43 percent said they were doing the “right thing.”

The poll, conducted by SSRS with 1,037 adults, showed that 49 percent supported requiring players to stand for the flag, while 47 percent disagreed.

Sixty percent said they thought Mr. Trump did the “wrong thing” by criticizing players who kneel during the anthem, and 34 percent said he did the “right thing.”

The CNN poll was weighted toward Democrats: 28 percent of respondents were Democrats, 23 percent were Republicans, and 43 percent were independent or belonged to a third party.

In addition, most of those polled weren’t pro-football fans: 47 percent said they were current NFL fans; 18 percent were former fans, and 33 percent had never been fans.

Mr. Trump gave a thumbs-up to teams whose players stood and linked arms during the anthem, saying in a Sunday tweet, “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable.”

 

A statement released Tuesday by the “Packers Players” asked fans to link arms during the anthem, and while some did, most appeared to salute, keep their arms at their side, or place their hands over their hearts.

Some fans also chanted, “USA! USA!”

At their last game, most Packers players locked arms, while three players sat and one took a knee during the national anthem, according to the Blaze, which tracked all team activity at last weekend’s games.

The Chicago Bears also stood and linked arms in their Week 3 game, the Blaze said.

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