Survey: NFL Players Think Anthem Protests, Money Just As Important

AP Marcio Jose Sanchez
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Not surprisingly, NFL players care about the potential of suffering brain damage. Very surprisingly, however, they also care about anthem protesting as much as they care about money.

USA Today Sports surveyed 108 NFL players between December 21st and January 19th.

According to USA Today Sports, “Players were granted anonymity if they chose, though many spoke on the record. And they were asked three questions: What is the most important issue facing the league? Do you feel NFL owners respect or disrespect players? And do you approve, disapprove or have no opinion on Goodell’s job performance?

“Of the 95 players who answered the question on the league’s most important issue, 39% said health and safety, including CTE, while 18% said compensation, including guaranteed contracts, and 18% said social issues, including protests during the national anthem.”

If these results are representative of what NFL players truly believe, the likelihood that NFL player activism will go anyway anytime soon, is very small. Perhaps the league will make a rule rendering anthem protests illegal during the offseason. However, with anthem protests and social issues ranking on the same level as money, the players will probably just find other outlets to protest.

Buttressing this point, is a number revealed later in the survey when players listed other issues of importance.

“Other issues — in addition to player safety, compensation and social issues — mentioned by players as most important: 5% said TV ratings and growing the game while 3% said officiating and 3% said player discipline and fines. Other issues receiving votes included communication between the league and players, larger practice squads and confusion about the catch rule.”

The NFL’s television contract makes up the vast majority of money that the league takes in. The league’s ratings decline — which has already begun to hurt the NFL’s bottom line — is also the most outwardly visible sign of the damage caused by the anthem protests. However, if only 5 percent of NFL players care about the ratings slide, chances are the players won’t be persuaded to curtail their activism to help the TV numbers.

In a large sense, the mentality of the players is shortsighted. After all, if you care about money, you should also care about ratings. Since the television contracts will end up being the largest slice of the financial pie. Though, with the average career length of an NFL player hovering around three years, and CBA’s lasting ten years; sometimes it can be hard to convince players to think about the long-term common good.

Either way, with players ranking protests on the same level of importance as money, it appears that jock activism is here to stay.


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