Amid dwindling ratings and more fans turning off, amid a sales drop of merchandise and tickets, finally, the NFL owners have understood what needs to be done apparently.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a letter to all team owners stating clearly that the ‘take a knee’ issue will be tackled during their meeting in New York next week.
In a letter he sent to the various teams, Mr. Goodell said: "Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues."
The issue has, of course, become highly politicized as Vice-President Pence walked out on an NFL game over the weekend as some players present on the field did not respect the US flag and the national anthem. President Trump has been critical of such players for weeks on end, resulting in many of his hard-core supporters simply ‘turning off’ for the games.
Owners are of course very aware of the business implications the anthem controversy is having. Up to this point, no major sponsors have dropped out but it is clear that the VP walkout is a turning point for many fans.
The league acknowledges unofficially that there is a link between the protests and the TV ratings which are in free fall mode.
Mr. Goodell added: "Everyone involved in the game needs to come together on a path forward to continue to be a force for good within our communities, protect the game and preserve our relationship with fans throughout the country. The NFL is at its best when we ourselves are unified. In that spirit, let's resolve that next week we will meet this challenge in a unified and positive way."