Many people have figured out in recent years that they can draw attention to themselves by predicting doom and gloom for the NFL. The latest to discover that path to attention is President Donald Trump.
Why the President of the United States would worry so much if players are standing, sitting, kneeling or even stretching for the national anthem doesn’t quite compute, with all the other issues he’s dealing with, but here we are. Yet again, Trump took a shot at the NFL for the widespread national anthem demonstrations last week by players, some of which even included team owners.
“You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said. “In my opinion the NFL has to change. Or you know what’s going to happen? Their business is going to go to hell.”
Trump: The NFL has to change or else "their business is going to go to hell" pic.twitter.com/59lvS1RUAm
— Axios (@axios) September 27, 2017
With more national anthem demonstrations than ever before on Sunday and Monday, following Trump’s comments that players should be fired if they don’t stand for the anthem, the NFL saw an increase in television ratings. The league is doing just fine.
Trump and the NFL have an interesting history. As the owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals in the 1980s, Trump was the face of the USFL’s anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. If there were hard feelings from either side, it didn’t show when multiple owners contributed millions to Trump’s inauguration. Those owners can’t feel like they’re getting a great return on investment considering Trump has now bashed the league a few times over the last week. Given the headlines and air time he’s getting for it, it’s probably going to continue.
Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
There is some truth that some fans are fatigued by the anthem demonstrations and the talk about it. Some football fans would rather hear about and watch football. But the NFL has also never been in the news quite like this before. Nor has the commissioner had to rebuke a president, like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did last week.
The NFL is also one of the most successful businesses in the United States, with estimated profits of more than $14 billion last year. Even with the overreaction to the dip in television ratings for parts of last season and early this season, the NFL’s ratings dwarf those of any other sport. Most stadiums (outside of Los Angeles anyway) are filled every Sunday. If the NFL’s business is going to “go to hell” over the anthem issue, it has a long way to fall first.
But there is now a full-scale battle between the President of the United States and the NFL. That’s a first. Since there is media attention to be gained by taking shots at the wildly popular football league, and since there’s a history with Trump unsuccessfully trying to get his Generals absorbed by the NFL about 30 years ago, we can probably assume that this won’t be the last time we hear from Trump on the subject.
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