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NFL popularity continues to nosedive, especially among conservatives

“It’s very simply this: This is a workplace, you are at the stadium, you are working that day, this is not a platform for protest.”

(National SentinelNFL Hell: Interest in America’s former No. 1 sport continues to nosedive with popularity falling to historically low levels, as players continue to protest the American flag, the National Anthem, police, and other “social injustices.”

A poll released by Fox News on Thursday showed that NFL popularity has tanked 18% since 2013. The biggest decline in favorability has come former fans who identify as Republicans and conservatives.

One of the most notable aspects of the survey was not just the drop in popularity but how quickly support vanished. Pollsters found that just 46 percent of respondents said they had a positive view of the league; just four years ago 64 percent of fans had a positive view.

The league’s negatives are higher as well. Four years ago just 19 percent of Americans viewed the NFL in a bad light, but today that number has skyrocketed to 41 percent — more than double in four short seasons.

The biggest decline in popularity and favorability came among self-identified Republicans in the survey. Support for the NFL among GOP fans has fallen 37 percent while declining 6 percent among Democrats and 14 percent among self-identified “Independents.”

“If the NFL were a political candidate, alarm bells would be going off in campaign headquarters,” says Democratic Pollster Chris Anderson who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Pollster Daron Shaw.

The league’s troubles really began in earnest last season, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem over what he said was outsized mistreatment of black men by police.

Protests have spread since then, and especially after President Donald J. Trump earlier this season called out both players and owners for showing disrespect to the country by kneeling or sitting on the bench during the playing of the anthem.

In some cities, police officers are refusing to volunteer to provide security for NFL games.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier, Vietnam War veteran who was wounded in battle and who eventually won four Super Bowls with his team, recently blamed both players and owners for the NFL’s current decline in popularity.

“It’s very simply this: This is a workplace, you are at the stadium, you are working that day, this is not a platform for protest,” Bleier, 71, told Yahoo Sports, in regards to players protesting before games. “The American people, they can’t go to their workplace and start to protest about whatever may be happening in their life. That wouldn’t be allowed and that shouldn’t be allowed in the NFL.

“It’s not a violation of the First Amendment at all, he continued. “You have off days, you can do it outside of the stadium or on other platforms, but not the gameday platform. It’s a very simple question and people are making it more complex than it really is.”

He also blamed owners.

“The was a lack of leadership there on the owners’ side as well as the Players Association long before to nip whatever was coming down the road after the Colin Kaepernick situation a year ago, in the bud,” Bleier said. “It should never have gotten to this point, nobody has stepped up to say ‘No, this is not what we do on game day.’”

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said that if any of his players sit or kneel during the anthem, they won’t play. So far, none of his players have defied him.

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