The 2017 NFL regular season is in the books, and when it comes to game attendance and television viewership, it wasn’t a great year for the league.
One reason for the sagging interest in the NFL appears to be player protests.
To recap, in 2016, Colin Kaepernick, then a back-up quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, began taking a knee during the pre-game national anthem to draw attention to social injustice in the U.S.
Other players followed his lead. And this season, even with Kaepernick out of the NFL, the protests continued.
While some football fans are OK with the silent protests, others find it distasteful, if not flat out anti-American.
Not surprisingly, President Trump waded into the protest debate.
At a Sept. 22 rally, the President said NFL owners should respond to this act of civil disobedience by saying, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"
Following Trump’s bombastic comments, NFL pre-game protests swelled from a handful to more than 200 players.
As the regular season wore on, fewer and fewer players carried on with the protests, but a segment of NFL fans had seen enough.
Instances abound of upset fans burning NFL jerseys, and disposing of game tickets. Certain businesses even refused to air NFL games, including one in Wallingford, Grand Central Sports Bar.
Back in September, Ed Ruszczyk posted a sign outside his 76 Quinnipiac St. establishment which read: “Due to the NFL’s disrespect to our nation’s flag, this sports bar will no longer televise any NFL games.”
Also, Grand Central Sports Bar no longer serves Budweiser on draft because of the company’s sponsorship ties with the league.
Ruszczyk’s NFL boycott has cost him customers and money, but he’s not backing down.
In the last few weeks, Ruszcyk said he’s gotten “no business.”
“But I don’t care,” he said. “I am what I am and that’s how I feel.”
Interestingly, Kaepernick too decided that his beliefs were more important than money. The quarterback opted out of his 49ers contract in March, and has attracted no suitors. Many onlookers surmise that he is being punished for his political activism.
We can learn something from Ruszcyk and Kaepernick. A simple lesson: Don’t be afraid to take a stand.