By Ryan Velez
The NFL preseason has begun, and as of this writing, Colin Kaepernick is without a team. Many are quick to say that his skills may not be what teams are looking for, or that they are looking to avoid the media circus that could follow him, but many others feel that this is a punishment for his protests throughout last season, including kneeling for the national anthem. If we revisit an article from last year in Forbes, the answer as to his current issue may be financial, not political.
Writer Mike Ozanian wrote last year around the start of the season: "It is starting to look like disrespecting the country during the national anthem is accomplishing what the concussions, domestic violence and deflategate could not do–drive down television ratings for the National Football League. Through two weeks of football, the NFL’s television ratings are down across the board. The drop in ratings and viewership is unprecedented in recent years and has occurred during the protest of the national anthem, started by San Francisco 49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick. Just last year some opined that the league’s ratings had no ceiling. That appears to be false."
Time will tell if Ozanian is truly correct, of if there were confounding factors at work while other players, such as Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, plan to continue protesting. Kaepernick was the face of this movement and was also the target of much of the hatred coming from angry fans. Even if the NFL didn’t lose money from these protests, it is likely that even the whiff of that happening scares owners.
“The National Football League will rake in roughly $4.6 billion in television fees from CBS, Walt Disney-owned ESPN, Comcast-owned NBC, Fox and DirecTV that it will equally share with its 32 teams this year. The NFL commands such a rich bounty because advertisers pay up for football’s huge ratings,” Ozanian writes. This money from television is the reason why the average NFL team is worth $2.34 billion and the average NFL player earns $2.1 million. Perhaps while some of the other issues surrounding the games and player conduct have been around for a while, the idea of these protests gaining such visibility is new. As a result, things that haven’t “rocked the boat” aren’t as concerning as a new factor that could. Many people feel that Kaepernick’s cause was just, even some who didn’t like his choice. Sadly, it looks the ultimate decision to keep him off the field has nothing to do with police violence at all—technically.