An NFL executive admitted protests have hurt his team’s attendance significantly

Baltimore Ravens players kneel for the American National anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Aaron Colen

An NFL executive just gave more credence to the theory that player protests before games have hurt attendance numbers.

Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass conceded as much in a letter to fans, according to USA Today.

What he said

Regarding the protests:

“We had the poor showing in London, complicated by the kneeling of a dozen players during the national anthem. That became an emotional and divisive issue. We know that hurt some of you. Others saw it differently and welcomed the dialogue that followed. Others bluntly told us to keep statements and protests out of the game. There are some of you who have stayed away from our games.

And later in the letter:

“We have had significant numbers of no-shows in the past when our play on the field has not met the high standard we and you have set for the Ravens. But this year has been different. The numbers are higher, and it is noticeable. There are a number of reasons for the no-shows, but surely the one-time protest in London has been a factor.”

The Ravens’ protest

The Ravens are having a good season so far, with a winning record and a chance to make the playoffs. But attendance has been down, and it could be traced back to the beginning of the year.

The Ravens played a game in London on Sept. 24, participating in an almost league-wide series of kneeling protests in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that protesting players should be fired.