NFL’s About Face on Anthem Protests Vindicates Breitbart, President Trump

Anthem Protests
AP Photo/Maddie Myer

The NFL’s decision to put an end to the player protests during the national anthem, provides vindication for criticism of the league offered by President Trump and Breitbart Sports. Not to mention the millions of fans who have left the game over the protests which have raged across the league for two full seasons.

In August of 2016 when former San Francisco 49er second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick first launched his protest against the country, Breitbart Sports reported that the news media wasn’t even interested enough in his actions to ask him why he remained seated for the playing of the national anthem. But the fans were not as disinterested. In fact, condemnation was swift.

Breitbart Sports additionally pointed out that Kaepernick’s protest was not merely about police brutality as so many supporters later insisted. In fact, Kaepernick himself said that he could never stand to honor the United States.

Early on, Kaepernick outlined his motivations to NFL Media: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the former Super Bowl starter explained. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Indeed, after the protest, it was found that Kaepernick had tweeted out the claim that the USA was no different at all from the slave-holding Confederacy of Civil War infamy. In a social media post that Kaepernick soon deleted when criticism of his anthem protest began to grow, the player posted an image of the U.S. and Confederate flags. He captioned the photo: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”

In another anti-American outburst, Kaepernick insisted that his protests were meant to “make America great for the first time.” In so many words, the player was saying that America is not now and has never been a great nation.
Kaepernick, at least early in his protest, was explicit that he was kneeling against the United States, not just protesting inequality.

It only took a few weeks for fans to turn against Kaepernick. Only a month after he first began protesting against the country and as other players began to join his protest during the national anthem, an online poll of NFL fans revealed that Kaepernick was the most disliked player in the entire league:

An online poll revealed Colin Kaepernick as the most disliked player in the NFL.

An E-Poll Market Research poll showed that 29 percent of respondents labeled the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback a player they “disliked a lot.” Just six percent said the same of Kaepernick two years ago.

By October of 2016, two months after Kaepernick’s protest had spread like a virus through the NFL, evidence was already showing that fan boycotts were hurting the league’s viewer ratings. As Breitbart Sports reported, as each week passed during the 2016 season, early evidence piled up to indicate that viewers had begun tuning out in droves. Ratings for the NFL’s week five games plummeted over ratings from 2015 showing that Americans had become fed up with the anti-American protests before half the season was over.

A new Rasmussen poll finds that 32 percent of adults surveyed say that they have stopped watching NFL football because of the protests while only a scant 13 percent said they are more likely to tune in because of the anthem protests.

That same month, Breitbart Sports reported that the NFL had also begun losing millions in advertising fees as the broadcast networks began issues givebacks to advertisers for fees that were based on larger audience numbers than the games were actually earning.

The negative effect on the NFL of the anti-American national anthem protests started by San Francisco 49ers second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick is coming more sharply into focus each week. Firstly, ratings have been tumbling week over week and now another metric to measure the effect has appeared as TV networks have now been forced to begin giving money back to advertisers because not as many people are watching football to be exposed to their TV commercials.

The networks have been providing advertisers with what are termed “make-goods.” These are refunds given to advertisers because the cost of advertising is predicated on the number of viewers a TV commercial will reach during a pro football game. But with ratings falling, often by double digits, advertisers are demanding their “make-goods” because ads are hitting far fewer eyes than they paid for.

Some are already calling these make-goods the “Kaepernick effect” with advertising revenues taking a major hit as fans tune out in droves.

A multitude of fans also rose to criticize Kaepernick and the league. In August, fans began taking to social media with videos and messages about burning their NFL gear, especially Kaepernick jerseys.

Naturally, Kaepernick decided that the backlash was proof that America was filled with racists.

“One of the things I’ve noticed throughout this is there’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism,” Kaepernick said. “And people want to take everything back to the flag, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking racial discrimination, inequalities, and injustices that are happening across the nation.”

The sports news media was only too happy to side with Kaepernick and to characterize his protest as but a “peaceful protest” aimed at bringing needed attention to the issue of police brutality. The media quickly attempted to erase Kaepernick’s original anti-American proclamations and to attack anyone who criticized the player’s protests.

USA Today columnist Nancy Armour was typical for the media’s slavish support of Kaepernick. In a July, 2017, editorial, for instance, Armour praised Kaepernick to the hilt and even celebrated his “attack on capitalism.”

Soon, Donald Trump began to criticize the NFL for mollycoddling the anti-American protests. When he was still the GOP nominee for president, Trump slammed protesting players telling them to go find a better nation and move there.

‘Well, I think it’s a lack of respect for our country,’ Trump maintained Monday on Fox & Friends. ‘I think it’s a lack of appreciation for our country, and it’s a very sad thing. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, actually.’

‘You know, you are talking about a major sport, maybe the major sport, and when you see that, and it leads to a lot of other things. I think it’s a great lack of respect and appreciation for our country and I really said they should try another country, see if they like it better. See how well they’ll be doing. See if they are going to be making $20 million being a second-string quarterback,’ Trump added.

That was far from the only time Trump focused on the NFL’s protests. After he became president, by September of 2017, Trump slammed the NFL for its then second year of protests. During a rally in Alabama, Trump said that he hoped the NFL would fire players who would stand for the anthem.

As Breitbart Sports reported:

‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say: ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!’ They don’t know it,’ Trump said as the crowd cheered. ‘They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person in the country.’

Despite wide approval of the president’s comments, members of the NFL condemned Trump for his rally speech.

As Breitbart Sports reported at the the time, Packers President Mark Murphy took strong exception to the president’swords:

It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.

Yet, by the end of the 2017 season, the second season during which the league allowed the anthem protests, TV ratings had thoroughly crashed. As Breitbart Sports chronicled over and over again, the league’s TV ratings feel farther each week as the 2017 season worked its way toward the Super Bowl. And all the while, the league insisted that falling ratings had nothing to do with the protests. Indeed, the owners were split on the matter with many wanting the protests to continue.

As Breitbart Sports reported:

Citing three sources familiar with the meetings, the Journal also tells of a ‘tense’ meeting during Week 3, when some owners expressed concern over taking on the president and said a belligerent reaction to Trump was bad for business.

According to the Journal’s sources, after Commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump’s passionate Alabama speech, where the president called the protesting players ‘SOB’s’ and criticized NFL officiating. Several NFL owners expressed concern about engaging Trump.

According to the Journal, ‘However, multiple owners at the meeting said they needed to avoid the likely repercussions of a lingering feud with the president over an issue that resonated with many fans. While the league didn’t issue a directive and there were no reports of owners forbidding players from protesting, several clubs took steps to reduce tensions in the days that followed the meeting. Detroit Lions players said team owner Martha Ford asked them not to kneel for the anthem, saying she would support causes related to racial injustice in return.’

However, it appears that those criticizing the league for the protests and those saying that the ratings had crashed because of the odious anti-Americanism seen on the field during game time, have been vindicated. With its May 16 announcement, the league finally made to put an end to the protests during the anthem by reversing course from past acceptance of the protests to ruling that teams will be fined if players continue to protest during the nation’s song. By doing so, the league admitted that the protests had indeed helped fuel the ratings collapse.

A contention that Breitbart Sports had made all along, despite denials from the league.

Regardless, the fact-free support of Kaepernick’s cause has continued apace in the media. Even with this week’s editorial, The New York Times ended its attack on the NFL’s new rule by perpetrating a lie.

“The fury that Mr. Trump ignited was so troubling that it brought players and team owners together in a meeting last October to discuss it,” the Times bleated in its editorial entitled, “The NFL Kneels to Trump.”

But, as Breibart Sports has shown, Trump jumped provided tremendous leadership with his NFL comments. Though, the president “ignited” no “fury.” The fury was burning before he blasted the protesting players in September. He merely reflected upon it, and we reported it.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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