Former superstar running back Herschel Walker has some words of advice for the NFL, but it doesn’t look like the league is going to listen.
With Week 1 television ratings reflecting a dismal kickoff to the NFL’s season, one of the game’s biggest names says the players have only themselves to blame.
The preening prima donnas might be stroking their own egos by preaching to their compatriots, but Walker had a reminder Tuesday that fans have a viewpoint, too.
And it’s pretty clear that many Americans don’t like what they see at all.
Fox News host Martha MacCallum opened her interview with Walker by reporting that the NFL’s overall viewers were down about 10 percent from last year’s start. (The ratings for “Sunday Night Football” alone were down a startling 28 percent, according to the Daily Caller.)
Then she played one of the most glorious moments of the young football season – when the fans at Thursday night’s season-opening game featuring the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans booed the teams’ sham show of “unity” during pregame ceremonies.
As conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh pointed out Friday, the booing had nothing to do with opposition to “unity,” or a statement of racism. It was simply what every real sports fan understands: Politics and sports do not belong together.
Those booing fans in Kansas City were speaking for an entire nation fed up with being lectured to by athletes who are paid to entertain, not pontificate. And sports figures shouldn’t be surprised when fans get angry they’re being mixed.
In his interview with MacCallum, Walker said much the same.
“First of all, it’s great unity, but as I said early on, there shouldn’t be politics in sport,” he said.
“The players do have a right to protest, but they must realize that fans have a right to protest as well. So if they boo, you can’t be upset. If they don’t watch the show, you can’t be upset.”
That’s a dose of reality the NFL could sorely use. Like other major professional sports, especially the NBA and its “Black Lives Matter” murals courtside, the NFL seems to think fans value virtue-signaling more than actual playing.
Walker — an unapologetic supporter of President Donald Trump and a man who tends to be as soft-spoken and rational in his public statements as he was ferociously competitive during his playing days — told MacCallum the players’ protests appeared to lack a rational goal.
“What is the end game?” he said. “You’re going to stay inside, but what is the end game? What do you want? How are you going to achieve this? Because all I see is protest, and all I see is words, and there’s no actions behind those words.
“And I said early on, instead of everybody having their folded arms and closed fists, why don’t we have an open hand? We all come together, and I’d love to go with you. The NFL, all major league sports, let’s go to Washington. Let’s get the Democratic, let’s get the Republican people together.”
Well, after almost four years of the Democratic Party’s top leadership making it very clear the party wanted nothing more than to destroy the Trump presidency, in an election year where the party has nominated the doddering, dishonest former Vice President Joe Biden, whose entire claim to the presidency appears to be that his last name isn’t “Trump,” it doesn’t look like American politics are going to get any less rancorous any time soon.
What is clear, though, is that the spineless NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s insufferably arrogant players have decided that politics is going to be part of the game for the foreseeable future.
The NFL is a private entity and is free to conduct its business however it chooses, even if it means financial suicide.
The league’s players are private citizens and free to conduct themselves how they see fit.
But as the NFL’s plummeting television ratings show — and those boos raining down in Kansas City on Thursday proved — the league’s fans, and many soon-to-be-former fans, have a voice, too.
The league still has a chance to listen, but patience is dwindling fast. It won’t last forever.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.