WASHINGTON — A year ago, it seemed you couldn’t go anywhere — social media, sports broadcasting, sports radio, bars — without hearing about NFL ratings. NFL ratings talk eventually merged with Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, and a controversy bonanza emerged.
A year later, we’re more or less in the same position.
After an entire offseason has come and gone without Kaepernick being signed, despite many other less successful quarterbacks finding NFL teams, it remains one of the biggest storylines around the league. Meanwhile, ratings for the season opener, a shocking upset of the New England Patriots courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs, were the league’s lowest in years.
And sure enough, one of the top voices in the sport, MMQB’s Peter King, tells 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes that the two are, in fact, related. But, King notes, Kaepernick and the growing national anthem protest is just part of the cause for the league’s ratings decline. The clip is below, starting around the 8:27 mark.
“How many more different excuses can we find for people to not watch NFL games? Last year it was the election, this year it was the hurricane,” King told Dukes Monday afternoon. “Last Thursday night, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots played a game, and Tom Brady is the singular biggest figure in the NFL right now, and the single biggest draw for anybody to watch television to see.
“And last year, you had … Cam Newton against Trevor Siemian. And that game last year got 11.5 higher rating than this year. And last year had a reduced rating from the previous year, and everybody said oh that’s because everybody’s watching the presidential campaign on TV. Well, on Thursday night, the hurricane was still two and a half days away from the United States.
“So I’m sorry, I’m not buying that everybody’s at home not watching Tom Brady and the Patriots begin their defense of their Super Bowl championship because they want to see what the hurricane is doing to Tortuga. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it for a second.
“I buy that there is something wrong in the NFL right now. I don’t know exactly what it is. I think some of it is Kaepernick-related. I think some of it is anthem protest-related. I think some of it is, and this is something that I wrote a little bit about today, I think the relationship between Roger Goodell and the players, Roger Goodell and the NFLPA.
“Nobody cares whether Roger Goodell and [DeMaurice] Smith get along at all, and I’m not sure they care if Roger Goodell and the players get along, but there’s this constant drumbeat of conflict that I just don’t think was in place when Paul Tagliabue was the commissioner of this league. You can say a lot of things about Paul Tagliabue, but he got along with the union pretty well, for the most part, and Roger Goodell doesn’t get along with the union at all.
“And I think some of the relationship between him and players in general [is] frayed. That had to be fixed, in my opinion. And I’m not saying it’s the biggest part of the ratings in any way, but I’m saying it all basically is a goulash for why the ratings, in my opinion, are tanking right now.”
There’s a lot to take in there, and we won’t delve too far into those takes because, well, those takes have been delved into many times before. So make of it what you will.
For what it’s worth, however, here’s this:
In news unrelated to NFL ratings, Colin Kaepernick or anthem protests, King also has an anecdote about riding a train around England with Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and his relationship with former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. That starts around the 4:18 mark of the clip below.