Roy Exum: Americans Bite Back

Friday, November 3, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The United States will officially celebrate Veteran’s Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, but it appears this year the biggest fireworks will be this Sunday, Nov. 5. A nationwide boycott of all things NFL – from football tickets to networks televising games – has been called for this Sunday. It is in retaliation towards the NFL players flaunting the liberties and freedoms that our armed forces have preserved long before this current crowd of players were ever born.

A misguided borderline player, Colin Kaepernick, started the act of kneeling while the national anthem was being played last year. Early this season President Trump got his tweets hot and at the league’s halfway point, the NFL is the least admired of all pro sports and viewers are down six percent from last year, or 18.7 percent after the first eight weeks in 2015. That may not seem like much until you realize the difference from 2016 is about 850,000 fewer viewers; that’s a huge number to advertisers.

The players, privileged and defiant, have gone relatively unchecked since they first mocked the Star-Spangled Banner, using it like some cheap tool instead of a salute to servicemen and women both past and present. They claim they are protesting police brutality and racial inequity but the public is tired of it. Major sponsor Papa John’s pizza says the protests are eating into his profits and, to listen to the war drums, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell better do something soon. Owner unrest is high.

The NFL’s response has been both disappointing and puzzling because there is clearly a huge elephant in the room so now the public will try its hand.  There have been chain-emails all week long urging readers to forward news of the boycott so that everyone will know this is “bite back” week.

There is more…

Last week it has been determined that an average of 14.8 million viewers have watched the first eight weeks of the NFL on Monday nights. This time a year ago the average was 15.5 million. just revealed this Monday night’s game (Kansas City 29, Denver 19) was the lowest rated and least watched game in the history of Monday Night football.

There are two groups behind this Sunday’s boycott. #boycottNFL believes the players involved are both unpatriotic and un-American. The other group --- #NoKaepernickNoNFL – wants to boycott until the owners give the embattled former 49er quarterback a job. (They claim he’s been locked out on purpose.)

In Louisiana, where 90-year-old tycoon Tom Benson owned the Saints and Pelicans (NBA), state legislator Kenny Havard (R-Jackson) is calling on state lawmakers to pull state funding, tax breaks and all other support. This is huge. Of the Saints’ $1.5 billion (with a ‘b’) value, roughly $165 million of that is public funding, tax breaks, and government incentives.

“I believe in the right to protest,” said Rep. Havard, “but not at a taxpayer-subsidized athletic event. Do it on your own time. There are plenty of disabled children, veterans, and the elderly in this state that would appreciate the money.”

Benson’s reaction? He had “a health incident” after Sunday’s Saints game and was rushed to the hospital. He has since been released and “is feeling fine,” according a Saints publicist but it is what you can’t see that’s the scary part. The Saints’ “sweet deal” has been brought to the forefront, along with the tax perks every other NFL franchise gets while churning millions. People aren’t exactly pleased as it is revealed Benson gets 100 percent of ticket sales, concessions, and parking. I’m telling you – watch what is beginning to happen.

The state of Louisiana pays the Saints $23.5 million every other year “to keep the franchise from leaving the state.” That is all the money is for … and the state just paid $85 million in improvements on the Superdome.

State Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge: “Ya’ll worried about Trump … I’m worried about my colleague who believes as he believes. I can’t wait to get my hands on this damn bill!! Not surprised we will now have the discussion. I wish we were in session right now.”

So this could be the biggest Sunday of the year in the NFL. Between advertisers, state legislatures, television networks and the NFL itself, all will be watching this unfold under a harsh glare and not a once caring a thing about the final scores of Week Nine.

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