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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ducks question about national anthem, isn't concerned about social justice hurting ratings

Will fans tolerate it?

A protester holds a sign that says, "Do You Understand Yet?!" with a picture of Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, taking a knee. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't worried that the league's heavy social justice emphasis for the upcoming season will hurt television ratings, despite evidence that some fans have been turned off by the NBA's demonstrations and protests, Goodell told CNBC.

The NFL has long dominated professional sports television ratings in the United States, but there was some belief in past years, particularly in 2017, that national anthem kneeling protests and the controversy surrounding them hurt the league's ratings. Now that the NFL is embracing, instead of opposing, overt social justice displays, Goodell isn't concerned.

"Our ratings have really been the envy of every entertainment and sports property," Goodell told CNBC. "We have the broadest audience, we have the best partners in all of television and media. We feel that ratings always go up and down for a variety of reasons."

When asked about the issue of national anthem protests, which upset many football fans who believe those demonstrations are disrespectful to the country, Goodell deflected.

"I wonder if you would agree that your own stance as it pertains to social justice has evolved since Kaepernick first took that knee. Certainly your recent interviews suggest that," CNBC host Carl Quintanilla said to Goodell. "I think some of our viewers want to know whether players will be on the field for the anthem, and whether you as a league and the ownership are willing to withstand any pushback if in fact we do see players take knees."

"I would tell you that all of us, hopefully, are evolving and learning—we should be—and we all should realize that we have to do more," Goodell responded. "I'm proud of what our league has done. I said it several months ago that we should've listened to our players earlier and been able to understand the things that were going on in our communities. We're seeing that play out on television sets across the country. They have been happening in our communities for years—decades—and we have to end it."

Goodell has fully embraced social justice activism by players in recent months, especially since the death of George Floyd in May. He said he was wrong for not listening to and understanding what players were protesting in previous years, and now the league is actively participating in social justice activism. From ESPN:

The NFL is planning extensive content around social injustice for Week 1 of the regular season, sources told ESPN.

Among options discussed by the league and players union, according to a source involved: Players reading personalized poems and delivering first-person vignettes based on experience with social injustice. These stories could be incorporated into game-day broadcasts.

This is in addition to recognizing victims of police brutality on the backs of helmets and playing or performing what's known as the Black national anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," before the season-opening games, as ESPN senior NFL writer Jason Reid reported in July.

(H/T The Daily Wire)

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