The NFL will be forced jersey again to confront a story

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On Wednesday afternoon, the NFL will be forced again to confront a story it must wish Authentic Malik Beasley Youth Jersey to go away. At an hour when the league’s employees should be hustling home from their New York office they will walk into a rally on the street outside, organized to ask the same inexplicable question that has perplexed many for months.“Why is Colin Kaepernick still unsigned?”The NFL season begins in two weeks and the quarterback who took the San Francisco 49ers to within seven yards of winning the Super Bowl four years ago does not have a job. His absence isn’t difficult to explain. His refusal to stand for the national anthem last year as a way to draw attention to racial inequality in the US has apparently made him toxic to the league’s owners who fear a backlash from white fans and corporate sponsors offended by a perceived lack of patriotism.
Proof of this comes in the words of New York Giants owner John Mara, who recently told Sports Illustrated that he had “never received more emotional email from people than I did about this issue”. A typical letter, he said, read: “If any of your players do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.”Evidence comes too in the Baltimore Ravens’ attempt to crowdsource fan reaction to a potential Kaepernick signing earlier this month. Though the Ravens desperately could use a backup quarterback with Kaepernick’s skills and experience, team owner Steve Bisciotti told the Baltimore Sun he wanted to do “what is best for our team and balance that with what is best for our fans”.The Ravens decided that what was best for their team and fans was to sign seldom-used backup Thaddeus Lewis, furthering the belief that teams are determined to sign anyone but the free agent Kaepernick.
“Will the league fear that advertisers are going to say, ‘We will take our advertising dollars and signage in stadiums and go away,’” Bob Dorfman, executive-vice president of Baker Street Advertising, an agency that handles sports accounts, told the Guardian. “While that’s not going to happen, that’s something that will open owners’ eyes.”But the more the owners keep Kaepernick away, the more his protest endures. A story that might well have died, since Kaepernick had promised to stand for the anthem this coming season, has instead become an even bigger issue as people keep wondering why no one will sign him. Several top African American players including Seattle’s Michael Bennett and Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins have kneeled for anthems before preseason games, with support coming from white teammates like the Seahawks Justin Britt and Chris Long of the Eagles. A group of black police officers in New York tweeted a photo of themselves kneeling for Kaepernkick – significant because much of his criticism has been directed at police bias against African Americans.Then on Monday, more than a dozen Cleveland Browns players staged the largest national Authentic Bucks Youth Jersey anthem protest yet, and were joined by white players for what’s believed to be the first time, before their preseason game against the New York Giants.
As the NBA encourages star players like LeBron James to speak out on social issues, the NFL’s fear of upsetting wealthy ticket buyers and corporate executives seems trapped in another era. In trying to make Kaepernick disappear, teams have made him as visible as ever.“The world has changed with racial attitudes,” Geoff Pope, a former Giants cornerback who has worked to encourage athletes to become socially aware, told the Guardian. “The NFL kind of looks like the old dude in the corner that’s not changing, [saying] ‘it’s my way or the highway.’”The NFL is the world’s most lucrative sports league, with $14bn in revenue, but its foundation has been weakened by a connection scientists have made in the last decade between the repeated banging of helmets and degenerative brain disease. Many parents have been hesitant to let their children play football, potentially weakening future talent pool. Last year, the first cracks began to show in the NFL’s dominance of the American market. Television ratings plunged an average of 8% last season. Many reasons have been given for the ratings drop, including a saturation of prime time games as well as a rise in the number of people dropping cable packages.But Kaepernick’s protest seemed to chase away white fans. A survey conducted by JD Power showed that 26% fewer people watched NFL games last year and, of that group, 24% claimed it was because of the anthem protest.
The NFL has long worried about losing control of America. While revenues are huge, football’s base is small – mostly confined to the continental US and parts of Canada and Mexico. This is why the league has pushed hard over the last decade to establish themselves in Europe and Asia. The NFL’s London games are unpopular with American fans, yet league executives are desperate to establish the game globally – much like basketball, baseball and hockey.The ratings drop has been a consistent topic over the past year, and league executives, including commissioner Roger Goodell, have appeared uncomfortable addressing it. A sustained drop in ratings could mean smaller future television deals and less money for owners who have seen values of their franchises rise from the hundreds of millions to as much as $4.2bn in the past 10 years.There is no evidence the league is working to keep their teams from signing Kaepernick.


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