Torres Tackles

NFL financials show anthem protest had little effect


Business is good in the NFL. Whether you’re the Cleveland Browns who went a whopping 0-16 last season or the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles who went 13-3, each NFL team received nearly $255 million from the NFL for merely existing.

Sure doesn’t seem like all that kneeling was a problem. Looks like that Papa John’s dude (and many others) were wrong.

The Green Bay Packers are a publicly owned a team. Because of this, they have to reveal their financial disclosure each year, which gives insight to how much money the rest of the league made. According to financial information released on Monday, the NFL distributed about $255 million to each of the 32 teams. That $8.1 billion was a revenue-record for the NFL, an increase from the revenue total of $7.8 billion in 2016.

Seems like the national anthem issue had little to no effect, despite critics pointing at TV ratings as a sign that kneeling during the anthem was ruining the league.

I’m not surprised. TV ratings have gone down across the board. Yet I didn’t see any kneeling while watching Family Guy the other day. Nor did I see it during the NBA this season. Yet ratings have been down.

There are plenty explanations for lower ratings. I tend to lean toward the theory that cord cutting, especially among millennials, is the reason why ratings are down. With the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, why pay for cable? I sure don’t. There are alternative ways to view live sports. All other shows I treat as movies. I watch them on my own time.

Yet kneeling was blamed because it’s easier to point at the millionaire “entitled” athlete and ignore why the kneeled in the first place.

Even with the increase in money, let’s not overreact and declare “the death of football” story completely obsolete.

While stories of concussions and CTE began to emerge, there were those who proclaimed the sport dead, or at least dying. I could see their point. Take a look at boxing. I remember a time when boxing was one of the top three sports in the nation next to baseball and perhaps horse racing. Now? Not so much.

Football could eventually get to that point. But we can’t gauge how alive the sport is by looking at the NFL. Rather, our attention needs to be at the youth level, the future generation of athletes.

I have friends and family members close to my age who have told me that they do not want their children playing football. How many other people in this generation are thinking the same way? I imagine enough to affect the sport. And how does that affect viewership? I can only speak from personal experience, but I sometimes cringe while watching people play, from the high school level up to the professional level. Other than it being my job, football isn’t “must watch” for me anymore. I had interest in the playoffs only because my beloved Philadelphia Eagles were on their way to their first ever Super Bowl — where eventual Super Bowl MVP Nicholas Edward Foles caught a touchdown pass thrown by third-string tight end Trey Burton, becoming the first person to throw and catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. But besides that glorious run, I don’t really feel the need to watch football much.

The NFL isn’t dead. They made $8.1 billion. No amount of kneeling will affect that. What will affect it is the next generation of athletes. Perhaps instead of focusing on the athletes who are kneeling on the field, football needs to look at the athletes who won’t even touch the field in fear of concussions and other health-related risks.