NFL Sunday Night Ratings Say A Lot About How Americans Feel About Anthem Protests

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The ratings for “Sunday Night Football” have taken a marked dive since the 2016 season, plummeting in the doubt digits.

Nielson’s metered-market household numbers from Sunday show that the Sunday night game between the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders scored an average 11.6 rating, a score down 11 percent from the third week of the season in 2016, Variety reports.

However, not every game suffered losses like the Sunday night NFL segment. Sunday afternoon and regional games were up this past Sunday. “Thursday Night Football” viewership was up 38 percent since week three of 2016, and total viewership was up 47 percent from the previous week.

NFL players’ protest of the national anthem this past weekend made waves across both conservative and left-leaning news outlets, as the media, the league, President Donald Trump and members of the administration weighed in on the subject.

Roughly 23 percent of NFL players did not stand during the national anthem. One player, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy, did not kneel, lock arms with his teammates or remain in the locker room Sunday during the national anthem; rather, he elected to stretch.

President Donald Trump began railing against the protests, what is becoming known as the #TakeTheKnee movement, Friday at a speech in Huntsville, Ala., where he was campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange.

“The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway,” Trump told a group gathered in Huntsville Friday.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'” the president said.

Trump tweeted a suggestion Sunday that “NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country.” Trump also said that NFL owners should “fire or suspend” players who kneel during the presentation of the national anthem.

The president tweeted Monday morning that “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

National Football League spokesman Joe Lockhart quickly retorted to the president’s comments about players protesting the national anthem.

“Everyone should know, including the president, that this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton, said in a statement Monday.

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