NFL Ratings Drop Faster Than Colin Kaepernick Hearing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’

Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The NFL sees its ratings going down faster than Colin Kaepernick after hearing “O say can you see.”

The Eagles-Bears ratings declined by double digits from last year’s Week Two Monday Night Football contest and represents the lowest number since the franchise moved from ABC to ESPN. The NFL experienced drops, albeit smaller ones, for the Sunday slate, too.

Reasons exist beyond San Francisco for the slump.

The two faces of the league for more than a decade, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, watch the action at home. The former by choice. The latter by the commissioner’s whim. Two franchises, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, essentially play in a limbo state. They ask, like The Clash, “Should I stay or should I go?” Their fans don’t care for the prolonged mistreatment that comes with franchises flirting with other markets. And certainly excessive flags and unwelcome rules—such as the attempted negation of the kicking game by bringing touchbacks to the 25—turn off some people who now turn off the NFL.

But the elephant in the room—actually three Dolphins, a Bronco, and two 49ers—continue to be the competitors in America’s Game insulting America’s song. Fans do not watch because of a quarterback who does not play. No one likes uninvited guests coming into their living room to insult them.

Talking heads and NFL spin doctors do not care to own up to this. But Colin Kaepernick becoming the face of the NFL actually does more to harm the league’s bottom line than Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, or Aaron Hernandez did by dominating news cycles. The criminal behavior of a small percentage of football players occurs away from the stadium. Colin Kaepernick’s perfectly legal protest happens on an NFL field in an NFL uniform on NFL broadcasts.

America is a free country. A multimillionaire remains free to kneel during the national anthem. Joe Six Pack remains free to turn off the television.


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