The NFL is not as strong as it used to be.
Television ratings for America’s favorite sports league were down 11 percent through the first six weeks of this season compared to the same point last year, and fans and analysts have offered myriad explanations as to why.
The games have been boring, they say. The officials have called too many penalties. Nobody wants to watch the NFL three days a week (Sunday, Monday and Thursday). Millions of Americans have cut the cord and are no longer watching traditional TV at all. Furthermore, the presidential election is distracting everybody from football.
Those factors all surely play a role, but retired St. Louis area police officer Jeff Roorda points to another reason: the proliferating national-anthem protests started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“I think they’re the only reason their ratings are declining,” Roorda told WND. “I think the NFL went too far in joining this anti-police chorus, and now they’re learning a little bit about their audience, which is white and black people who support law enforcement and think we should continue to be a society of laws.”
A recent poll showed a plurality (40 percent) of NFL fans who are watching less football this year are doing so because of the national-anthem protests.
When Kaepernick was first spotted kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a preseason game, he said he was doing it to protest police brutality and the oppression of minorities in America.
Since then, players from other teams have copied him.
Some have knelt like Kaepernick; others have stood with one fist raised like 1968 Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Some have sat on the bench, while others have linked arms with their teammates.
The NFL has allowed the protests to go unpunished, saying in a statement, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”
On the other hand, when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted his players to wear a special decal on their helmets to show solidarity with the five Dallas police officers who were killed by an anti-white gunman in July, the NFL refused to allow it.
This double standard convinces Roorda, author of the new book “The War on Police: How the Ferguson Effect is Making America Unsafe,” that the league doesn’t know its own audience.
“They’re more interested in placating the thugs who wear the uniform, and there’s not many of them, but there’s a significant number of NFL players who have engaged in behavior that the league ought to be embarrassed about, and those very same players are the ones that sort of lead the charge in this anti-police rhetoric,” the former police chief said.
Roorda said the NFL has an anti-police undercurrent that has been simmering for a long time, but he believes it exploded into the spotlight in November 2014 when a group of St. Louis Rams receivers came out for pregame introductions displaying the “Hands up, don’t shoot” gesture associated with the shooting of Michael Brown.
That came six days after a grand jury acquitted Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Brown shooting.
At the time, Roorda, who serves as the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, publicly called on the NFL to apologize and punish the five Rams players who protested. However, the league declined to discipline the players.
“Once they allowed that to slide, I think it was a signal to all these other players that wanted to turn game day into political statement day that that was okay, that that was acceptable behavior, and that the NFL won’t do anything to moderate their players’ anti-police commentary,” Roorda declared.
He suggested that a league that fines its players for minor uniform infractions should also fine its players for anti-police protests. Either that or they should start letting the minor things slide as well as the social protests.
“I think they need to have an all-or-nothing rule,” Roorda proposed. “Either everything’s okay or nothing’s okay. This is a league that won’t even let you wear unapproved shoestrings. They heavily regulate your uniform and what you do on the field and the accouterments you wear with your uniform, right until the time you say something against the police, at which time they say they can’t do anything about their players’ behavior on the field.”