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#BoycottNFL? Is QB Colin Kaepernick’s protest the reason NFL ratings are falling?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, center, signs autographs for fans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC prior to the team's game vs the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, September 18, 2016.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, center, signs autographs for fans at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC prior to the team's game vs the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, September 18, 2016. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The NFL is saying TV ratings are down this season because of a hotly contested presidential election.

Monday night, for example, ESPN received a 6.5 overnight rating for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Panthers. That is ESPN’s lowest Week 5 rating for Monday night football since it started broadcasting the package 10 years ago.

A new article by the Sporting News released Monday questions whether the NFL might be looking in the right spot for its ratings woes.

“The NFL is dreaming,” the Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy writes, “if it thinks the alarming double-digit drop in TV ratings this season has nothing to do with a fan backlash against Colin Kaepernick's protest of the American flag and national anthem.”

McCarthy reports that Sunday night and Monday night games are delivering ratings that are down 16 to 20 percent. Last week, ESPN reported on a memo circulating among teams, scrambling to find reasons why ratings were down 11 percent overall this season. League executives concluded that the presidential election and not any type of player protest was the primary cause.

McCarthy surmises that the election is having an impact, as is a lack of star quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning retiring, Tony Romo hurt and Tom Brady just coming back last Sunday -- blowouts and too many penalty flags. But he writes that a strong anti-protest movement is also taking foot. It even has a Twitter hastag #boycottNFL

“The bottom line,” McCarthy concludes, “there's a vocal group of fans out there that sees the peaceful protest by the 49ers quarterback, and other NFL players, as anti-American, anti-police and anti-military. We don't now how many of them there are. Right or wrong, they're offended by what they see as disrespect by Kaepernick and other NFL players toward Old Glory and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’...These TV vigilantes are hell-bent on punishing the $13 billion league that seems to accept, even condone, the kneeldowns and raised fists by its players. They're urging other turned-off viewers to tune out NFL games.”

Read the entire article here.

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