It’s not often that the crowds are shown during the NFL National Anthem protests — reports say camera crews are instructed not to show the fans — but Packers fans were hard not to notice when Green Bay’s team locked arms while the anthem played.
Before their game against the Chicago Bears, Packers players asked their fans to join the team in linking arms as a sign of “unity” while the anthem played. According to reports from the game, fans did not take the players up on their offer.
Instead, the sea of green and gold in the stands could be heard chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” in unison when players began to link arms.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 29, 2017
“Well, it was an invitation to join us,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the fans. “The beauty is, it’s a free country so they can choose to do it or not.
“It was really patriotic,” said Packers fan Steve Tate, who was in the crowd.
Rodgers said while many fans think this was about disrespecting the flag, or the country, it’s actually in fact about “unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country.”
In other words, it’s another Trump protest.
But as has been seen time and again, these politically charged protests do nothing but hurt the team, the brand, and the sport. The Packers-Bears game saw a 14 percent drop in ratings compared to last year’s game. Even last Sunday’s game between the Redskins and the Raiders was down ten percent from last year.
In addition, DirecTV has begun issuing refunds to NFL ticket package holders.
It seems some may be learning the lesson that no one is there for the player’s politics. According to Fox News, the Denver Broncos have announced that they will all stand during the National Anthem. A good thing too, as one of them already lost an endorsement deal for kneeling during the anthem.
Although, not everyone has learned to keep politics out of the sport. Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker told fans that if they didn’t like the protests, then they could just stay home.
Walker should be careful. Fans are already proving they will.