Few NFL teams were exempt from the embarrassing, anti-American anthem-kneeling protests of 2017, but some – like the Baltimore Ravens – were more entrenched in them than others. And while the Ravens management has not gone as far as the Dallas Cowboys have and outright barred their players from these disgusting demonstrations of unpatriotic fervor, they are now realizing that they need to make amends with the people that count most? The mainstream media, including ESPN? No, the fans. Specifically, the fans who have already given the team money and are not pleased about the direction of the franchise or the league in general.
Apparently nervous that season ticket-holders are going to stay home even as the Ravens compete for an AFC Wild Card slot, the team’s president, Dick Cass, sent a letter to them this week acknowledging their concerns and, surprisingly, admitting that the protests were hurting attendance.
“We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the National Anthem,” Cass wrote. “That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.
“We have had significant numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens,” he wrote. “But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”
These protests, started by Colin Kaepernick and bolstered after President Trump weighed in against them, have cost the NFL untold millions in advertising, ratings, and ticket sales. And yet, some players – such as Kaepernick’s former teammate Eric Reid, say they don’t really care if kneeling for the anthem costs them their careers.
In an interview this week, the 49ers safety, now going into free agency, said that he wasn’t concerned about the possibility that his protests would keep him from being signed to a new team.
“There are probably teams that won’t want to talk to me because of it. I’m hopeful that I will be on a team next year, but if not, again, that’s OK with me,” he told ESPN.
While we can respect that stance – it’s certainly more committed than Kaepernick, who has done nothing but whine and file legal action all year – it doesn’t speak to the damage Reid and his fellow protesters are doing to the league as a whole. To say nothing of the fundamental disrespect to the flag and our country that the protests represent.
We’re still holding out hope that these ridiculous demonstrations vanish in the 2018 season, but it may be too late for the NFL to get back those fans they’ve lost.