The NFL and ESPN may have been looking for a hero to save the day Monday night, but “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” could only do so much to prop up the deeply damaged industry. The points scored on the field in a game between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings mattered little to industry leaders in light of the embarrassingly low numbers making up Monday night’s ratings.
The NFL has been hit with blow after blow as fans, angered by players showing disrespect for the National Anthem on the field, have looked elsewhere for their sports entertainment. ESPN has even gone to the extent of not showing some of the National Anthem ceremonies on TV, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Even Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who linked arms and knelt with his players a couple weeks ago, has now done an about-face and is threatening action against players who don’t stand for the “Star Spangled Banner” before each game, according to Fox News.
"I know this, we cannot ... in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we're clear," Jones said.
"There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you're disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other. We will not disrespect the flag," he added before reiterating that those who don’t stand for the National Anthem will not play.
ESPN's ratings hit a regular game season low for “Monday Night Football” this week, down 17 percent, according to Deadline Hollywood. That’s a big drop from the previous Monday. “Sunday Night Football” didn’t do well either.
Even a debut of the full trailer for the next “Star Wars” movie — hitting theaters Dec. 15 — during half-time wasn’t enough to draw fans back to ESPN. In fact, it appears that the NFL has become the least liked major sport in the U.S., according to a poll by The Winston Group. The results were released by the Washington Examiner showing that what was once America’s favorite sport saw a severe drop in popularity over the course of September.
The NFL now sits below the MLB, college football, the NBA, and college basketball, in that order. President Trump threw more water on the NFL’s dwindling flame with a tweet Tuesday morning.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” he wrote.
On Monday, he also praised Jones’ words, tweeting, “A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag. ‘Stand for Anthem or sit for game!’”
Vice President Mike Pence also caused a stir Sunday after he left an Indianapolis Colts game when San Francisco 49ers players protested the National Anthem, according to the Los Angeles Times.
What do you think about all of this? In related news, a well-known judge is coming to Jemele Hill’s defense after she was suspended from ESPN.