Several weeks after a handful of NFL players carried out the national anthem protests this season, President Donald Trump put himself in the middle of the controversy, tweeting about the "disrespect" players had shown to the flag and country. Here's what happened to the number of protesters in the NFL after Trump inserted himself into the national debate.
How many NFL players were involved in the protests before Trump tweeted about the issue?
According to ESPN, there were 10 NFL players who actively protested the national anthem during Week 2, before Trump finally fired back at the NFL players involved in the protests during Week 3 of the current NFL season.
What has happened to that number since then?
Since Trump's denouncement of the protesters during week 3, the number of protesters each week are as follows, with a huge uptick immediately after his comments:
Week 3 — 204 players
Week 4— 52 players
Week 5 — 34 players
Week 6 — 12 players
Week 7 — 30 players
Why does it matter?
Since Trump's comments spurred him to the forefront of the national anthem conversation, the number of NFL player protests has varied, but on average, has been substantially more than it was before Trump inserted himself into the conversation. The protests appear to have leveled out at over double what they were before Trump spoke out against them.
Conversely, the NFL has seen an overall drop in viewership, with Fox Sports at a 7 percent decrease in NFL viewers, CBS recording a 17 percent dip for Sunday games and an 8 percent decrease in viewership for Thursday games, and a 4 percent drop for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
The only NFL program without a drop in ratings has been ESPN's "Monday Night Football," which has received a 6 percent increase in viewership this season.