Hours before the NFL season was set to kick off in full on Sunday, President Donald Trump took a dig at the league’s declining viewership for its primetime opener last Thursday, when the Philadelphia Eagles took on the Atlanta Falcons.
Calling the viewership “the lowest in a decade,” Trump suggested that if players stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” then the ratings would improve.
Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
Reports show ratings for Thursday’s game were down 13%, but the kickoff in Philadelphia was delayed by more than 30 minutes due to rain, pushing the broadcast later into the evening. Philadelphia Eagles players Michael Bennett and Jay Ajayi took a seat on the bench near the end of the anthem before Thursday’s regular season opener, but there were no other visible protests.
On Sunday, Miami Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt in protest, as they did during the preseason, while defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist.
The NFL had passed a new anthem policy in May, but those rules were put on hold. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL is not expected to implement a new policy on the national anthem this season, no matter how many meetings and conversations occur regarding the topic.