Early ratings for NFL are down, but maybe not for reason you think

Did national anthem protests and President Trump’s harsh criticism of them hurt the NFL’s ratings on Sunday? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

The early ratings numbers, which are incomplete and subject to a great deal of change, showed CBS’ numbers up compared to the same week last year, while NBC and Fox’s numbers were down.

But even if ratings are down year-over-year, the early numbers also indicate that ratings for this week’s slate of games could end up being better than they were for the season’s first two weeks, even despite the controversy.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” game, the Washington Redskins’ lopsided 27-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders, nabbed an 11.6 overnight rating compared to a 12.9 rating for a match-up between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys one year ago. That’s a drop of roughly 10%.

To come up with overnight ratings, Nielsen takes the percentage of households watching in 56 U.S. markets and comes up with an overnight average — so an 11.6, for instance, means that 11.6% of households in those 54 markets tuned into the game on NBC on Sunday night. (In this case it was actually 54 markets rather than the standard 56 because numbers for two major Florida markets, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers, are still delayed due to the effects of Hurricane Irma.)

Fox took a bigger hit. Overnight ratings for its singleheader slate of games were down 16% compared to last year’s week 3 numbers.

But CBS’ overnight ratings were up 4% compared to last year’s week 3 coverage. The network’s two afternoon national games, one between the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals and the other between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, were basically even with last year.

The networks saw huge boosts for their pregame shows, though.

CBS’ pregame show, “The NFL Today,” was up 33% compared to last year, and scored its best overnight rating since 2010. Fox’s first pregame show, “Fox NFL Kickoff,” was up 30% compared to last year while its second pregame show, “Fox NFL Sunday,” was up 9%. Both networks tackled the political news of the weekend.

So what does all of this all mean? Hard to say.

Overnight ratings can give a glimpse of which way viewership is going, but don’t always tell the whole story. The overnight numbers for this week, combined with the generally sluggish ratings for the first two weeks of this season, are concerning to the NFL and its TV partners, but it’s still early and the NFL is still bringing in the biggest numbers on TV. Nielsen will release viewership data on Tuesday.

Trump began a firestorm around the NFL on Friday night when he went after the league and attacked players who have been kneeling or sitting during the national anthem to draw attention to social justice issues.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump told a crowd in Alabama on Friday night.

The protests began last season when quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem in protest of racial injustice.

Trump’s comments on Friday night shined a spotlight on the league and the protests, leading the networks to change up their planned broadcasts of games and the anthems preceding them.

Fox, CBS, and NBC all broadcast the national anthem live during football games Sunday — a notable shift away from their usual practice. ESPN, which also abandoned some of its usual pregame chatter to talk politics, plans to air the anthem live on “Monday Night Football.”

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Steelers player who stood for national anthem has top-selling jersey

Alejandro Villanueva’s jersey just became the hottest buy in the NFL.

It’s the top seller in the league after the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle broke with his team and walked out of the tunnel for the national anthem.

The Steelers had decided as a group to stay in the locker room. They were one of three teams to sit out the anthem after President Trump said NFL owners should fire players joining the protest. Trump referred to a player who disrespects the flag as a “son of a b****.”

On Monday, Villanueva’s No. 78 jersey was outselling big names like Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers on the NFL Shop.

Villanueva was a captain and an Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and received several medals for his service, including the Bronze Star.

Protests during the national anthem began last year when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the treatment of black Americans, especially by the police.

Kaepernick’s jersey also hit the top spot after he began the protest.

He pledged to donate all the money he made off jersey sales.

According to the agreement between the league and the players union, players get two-thirds of the money from jersey sales. The rest goes to the union, and some of that goes into a pool for all NFL players.

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NFL owners donated big money to Trump

NFL owners — including many who sided with their players in protests this weekend — were big donors to President Trump’s inauguration festivities.

At least $7.75 million of the $106 million raised for Trump’s inaugural committee came from NFL owners and the league, according to public records.

NFL Ventures, a lucrative business unit of the league, gave $100,000. And many owners gave far more.

That includes $1 million from Shahid Khan, the Pakistani-American owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who linked arms with his players during the National Anthem before his team’s game in London.

In a statement, Khan also criticized Trump, who said that when any player disrespects the flag, owners should say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.”

The Kraft Group, the business of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been a vocal supporter of Trump, also gave $1 million. So did Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans and a contributor to the Trump campaign.

Both issued statements critical of Trump’s comments and supporting the right of players to take a knee during the anthem, as did Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who gave $100,000 to the inaugural along with $300,000 from his company.

Some of the owners who gave money to the inaugural issued statements supportive of players’ right to take a knee during the anthem but not directly critical of Trump.

Those include Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, who gave $1 million, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer, whose brother and co-chairman, Ed, gave $250,000.

Christopher Johnson, who has run the Jets since Trump tapped his father, Woody, to be ambassador to Britain, also issued a statement supportive of the players but not directly critical of Trump. Woody Johnson gave $1 million to the committee.

The committee collected $1 million each from two owners who did not address Trump’s comments this weekend: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who gave through a corporation, and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

Jones, whose Cowboys play Monday night, had earlier had been critical of players who protested during the anthem. Snyder’s Redskins issued a statement that did not directly make reference to the anthem protests or Trump and also did not mention Snyder by name.

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South Floridians react to players taking knee during national anthem

The Dolphins returned home Sunday from a disappointing game in New York.

Throughout the NFL on game day, there were signs of solidarity. Fans on both sides of the argument Sunday said this should be a time for unity, not divisiveness.

Players took a knee and linked arms in an attempt to make a statement about injustice in the U.S., and directly taking on President Donald Trump, who just days earlier said anyone who kneels during the National Anthem should be kicked off the field and fired.

Sunday, the president tempered those comments but maintained his position that taking a knee shows disrespect.

“We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers, our first responders, and they should be treated with respect,” Trump said. “And when you get on your knee and you don’t respect the American flag or the anthem, that’s not being treated with respect.”

Fans around the country have fallen on both sides of the argument.

“These are peaceful protests,” Brian Wright, who supports the protests, said. “All they’re doing is kneeling, showing their displeasure with the way things are in the country right now.”

“You can’t just come in here and kneel and expect changes,” Shaun Wright, who is against the protests, said. “What it’s actually doing is inciting disrespect to our flag, the police, our government.”

Jesus Harte and Jamal Jenkins have a unique perspective on the issue. Both men are Marine Corps veterans, with 20 years of service between them. They’re also both black men who have witnessed injustices first-hand U.S.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions at the same time, but I like what they’re doing,” Harte said of the protests.

“Would I take the knee or would I stand for the flag?” Jenkins said. “(I) take off my hat but yet still raise my black fist in the air. Alright? I’m still representing multiple fronts. Respect for this, love for the country, but also that I still stand for injustice.”

Local 10 News spoke with many people, all of whom expressed feeling that the situation is causing yet another split in the country. But those who supported the protest said they feel like it is the president who is causing the split. Those who are against the protests said it’s the players who are to blame.

 

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South Floridians react to players taking knee during national anthem

The Dolphins returned home Sunday from a disappointing game in New York.

Throughout the NFL on game day, there were signs of solidarity. Fans on both sides of the argument Sunday said this should be a time for unity, not divisiveness.

Players took a knee and linked arms in an attempt to make a statement about injustice in the U.S., and directly taking on President Donald Trump, who just days earlier said anyone who kneels during the National Anthem should be kicked off the field and fired.

Sunday, the president tempered those comments but maintained his position that taking a knee shows disrespect.

“We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers, our first responders, and they should be treated with respect,” Trump said. “And when you get on your knee and you don’t respect the American flag or the anthem, that’s not being treated with respect.”

Fans around the country have fallen on both sides of the argument.

“These are peaceful protests,” Brian Wright, who supports the protests, said. “All they’re doing is kneeling, showing their displeasure with the way things are in the country right now.”

“You can’t just come in here and kneel and expect changes,” Shaun Wright, who is against the protests, said. “What it’s actually doing is inciting disrespect to our flag, the police, our government.”

Jesus Harte and Jamal Jenkins have a unique perspective on the issue. Both men are Marine Corps veterans, with 20 years of service between them. They’re also both black men who have witnessed injustices first-hand U.S.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions at the same time, but I like what they’re doing,” Harte said of the protests.

“Would I take the knee or would I stand for the flag?” Jenkins said. “(I) take off my hat but yet still raise my black fist in the air. Alright? I’m still representing multiple fronts. Respect for this, love for the country, but also that I still stand for injustice.”

Local 10 News spoke with many people, all of whom expressed feeling that the situation is causing yet another split in the country. But those who supported the protest said they feel like it is the president who is causing the split. Those who are against the protests said it’s the players who are to blame.

 

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About two dozen NFL players kneel for national anthem in London

About two dozen players, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the start of the teams’ game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Other players on one knee during the performance included Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb as well as Jaguars linebacker Dante Fowler, defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Players on both teams and Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who were not kneeling, remained locked arm-in-arm throughout the playing of the national anthem and “God Save The Queen,” the national anthem of Britain.

No players were kneeling during the playing of the British national anthem.

President Donald Trump had a suggestion on Saturday for National Football League owners whose players decide to take a knee during the national anthem: fire them.

Several NFL players decided to #takeaknee on Sunday. Do you agree with their decision?

— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) September 24, 2017

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