The NFL is a brand. It is an institution, yes, but it is also a brand...and football has fouled up it's brand in a major way. Start with the bolloxed domestic violence responses, add head-trauma issues, drugs and the occasional murder, football has been in some trouble for a few years. Now, the mis-handling of the "kneeling for social justice," movement is going to leave a mark, and probably not for the reasons many think.
Are some people offended that players are kneeling for the anthem? Yes.
Are kneeling players trying to make a valid statement? Yes.
Is everyone who is offended about the kneeling a racist? No.
Do players have a right to kneel? Yes.
Do fans have a right to be offended? Yes.
Is this hurting the NFL? Yes.
The NFL is a business. A very lucrative business. It is also what most people would call entertainment.
We live in a world where we are inundated with hateful rhetoric, bad news, and seemingly surrounded by bad behavior. It's on the news, on YouTube and in your Facebook feed. Heck, Drive on any freeway and you'll get your fill of people behaving badly.
When you go to a concert, or a football game, or a movie...chances are good, you are desperately trying to escape the nastiness of the "real world." 4 hours, man. just a little respite from the constant input and name-calling.
Everybody wants to be political. Everybody wants to make a statement. That's why Facebook and Twitter exist...you can make any statement you like, in as kind or as nasty a way that you wish.
And sometimes, you want to step away, for a few glorious hours...to cheer on superheroes at the movies, or to watch the team you grew up with pound the team you have hated since your parents threw football parties and Uncle Bob spilled beer all over their olive green shag.
Many people just want a break from it all. And if they can't get it from football, those entertainment dollars might be headed to Valley View Casino Center, where the Gulls are entertaining the living heck right out of people. And there is beer. And for a few short hours, you can yell, scream, hoot, holler and boo to your heart's content. And there is beer.