Blowback? NFL Ticket Sales Crash 17.9% As Owners Lose Control Of Players
Probably just a coincidence... or just transitory, but The online ticket reseller TickPick told The Washington Examiner that sales have dropped 17.9 percent, far more than the usual Week Three fall...
- 17.9 percent decrease in NFL orders this week compared to the previous week.
- Last year the drop was 10.8 percent in orders on Monday & Tuesday following Week Three games.
"We have seen a massive decrease in NFL ticket purchases this past week in comparison to years past. Week 3 seems to usually have less ticket orders than week 2, but this year ticket purchases are down more than 7 percent from this time last year," said TickPick's Jack Slingland.
"While we can't specify if this decrease is due to the president's comments, player and owner protests, play on the field, or simply the continued division of consumer's media attention, the conversation around the NFL this week has focused on the president's comments as well as the players' and owners' reaction. As viewers continue to abandon their NFL Sunday habits, both the number of ticket sales and the purchase price of tickets will drop," he told us.
And despite orders from The NFL that players will stand for the National Anthem this week, The Hill reports that at least three Miami Dolphins players (Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas, & Kenny Stills) took a knee during the playing of the national anthem Sunday.
Saints players took a knee before the anthem began, but then stood as it was played.
But as ESPN reports, NFL owners are struggling to retain control of their players...
"It certainly was my takeaway that the commissioner was looking for a way for the protests to end," DeMaurice Smith (NFL Players Association executive director) said Friday when asked about his 30-minute conversation with Goodell (NFL commissioner), while declining to offer specifics about what was discussed. Goodell declined to comment, but a league source did not dispute Smith's account.
"Knowing the league the way I know the league, they are first and foremost concerned about the impact on their business," Smith said. "That's always their first concern. I mean, who are we kidding?"
Nobody was kidding when many of the NFL's highest-profile owners, including Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, expressed concerns last week that the optics of hundreds of players kneeling, sitting or remaining in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem had alienated many fans at a particularly perilous moment for the NFL.
TV ratings for many of this year's games have continued a slide that began last season; some league sponsors have grown skittish about the backlash; and most surveys have shown that a majority of NFL fans are turned off by the politicization of the game.
To the commissioner's suggestion that the protests should end, Smith said,
"My only response was, 'I don't have the power to tell our players what to do.' ... At the end of the day, this is a group of players who are exercising their freedom.
There is no room for me to snap my fingers and tell our players, 'It's time for you to give up a freedom.' Just the idea offends me. It's almost as if the players are being asked, 'What's it going to take for you to stop asking to be free or to be treated like an American?'"
Early on, one of the players pointedly told the assembled owners -- in particular Kraft, who this year gave his longtime friend Trump a Super Bowl 51 champions' ring -- "We know a lot of you are in with Trump. This meeting is going on because the players think that some of the people that they work for are with his overall agenda, and that's not in the players' favor."
"We can't just tell them to stop," Goodell said of the players' protests.
Many owners immediately argued otherwise.
"We need to find a way where Trump doesn't win," one said, and that meant using leverage as employers to end the protests.
Another said, "We'll get our guys in line."
Political infighting contonues to stink up the place...
Some owners were angry that Joe Lockhart, the NFL's executive vice president of communications who worked as President Bill Clinton's press secretary, had told reporters on a Monday conference call that the players' words and actions on the subjects of police brutality and racism were "what real locker room talk is."
It was a brazen shot at Trump, who was captured in a 2005 video talking, in explicit terms, about grabbing women by their vaginas but later dismissed the video's contents as "locker room banter."
Owners, many of whom had supported Trump and seven of whom had donated at least $1 million to him, felt that Lockhart had unnecessarily politicized the league's response.
One owner barked angrily at Lockhart, who declined to comment about the matter, echoing a sentiment that most of them -- especially Jones -- shared: Nobody wanted to engage in a political mud fight with the White House, even if "they were all pissed at the president," a league source said.
As ESPN concludes, by the end of their meetings, the players and owners weren't as unified as they would later publicly state, but as one owner says, "We've gotten out of crisis management and into, 'How do we do this correctly?' There was a chance that we didn't deal with it correctly -- and it had passed."
Perhaps after this week's collapse in ticket sales - and potentially a few more lost advertising dollars - the owners may have some different ideas on how to control their players in their place of work.