Some NFL Teams Getting Backlash From Fans Upset Over Player Protests On Sunday
The Broncos’ "famously loyal fan base showed signs of splintering along political lines" yesterday as fans "stampeded social media and the Broncos’ phone lines to register disgust with 32 players’ decision to take a knee" during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Bills, according to John Wenzel of the DENVER POST. Talk of boycotts yesterday "was common on Facebook and Twitter ... with some fans asserting the best way to send a message to the Broncos’ head office is by hurting their bottom line." But Broncos officials said that out of 22,000 season-ticket holders "representing a little more than 70,000 seats, none have asked for a refund" (DENVER POST, 9/26). Meanwhile, Broncos coach Vance Joseph said that he "believes players should stand for the anthem and find a time other than the national anthem to voice their opinion." Joseph: "It should be a separate issue. It should not be a part of what we’re doing on Sundays. ... Politics and sports don’t mix, in my opinion. I’m a football coach. They’re football players. Our job is to win football games" (GAZETTE.com, 9/25).
JAGS FANS PUSH BACK: In Jacksonville, Soergel & Dixon in a front-page piece wonder if a "significant chunk" of the team’s fan base is "really going to ditch the Jags because of the team’s silent protest" in London on Sunday. Soergel & Dixon: "Will the fuss subside or will it fester or grow?" Jacksonville-based WJXL-FM host Ryan Green said, "You can tell very quickly when you open the phone lines the level of anger about this. We tried to keep it on the game, but it was very apparent though that people wanted to talk about the anthem.” Green added that calls after the game "ran about half and half on the issue." Those "upset about the anthem protests, which were seen across the NFL, were by far the more angry group." Many Jaguars fans "feel angry and dismayed by the protests" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/26).
TURMOIL IN BALTIMORE? In Baltimore, Jean Marbella in a front-page piece notes there are Ravens fans who "say they want to sell their tickets to future games in response to Sunday’s NFL-wide protest." Other fans "went further, burning their teams’ jerseys, even as other fans happily offered to take any tickets or memorabilia off their hands." Sports marketing experts said that it is "unclear if the current turmoil will prove fleeting or have a lasting impact -- on game attendance, TV viewership and the NFL brand." Ravens Senior VP/Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne: "We are hearing a variety of opinions -- some showing disappointment with the players who demonstrated and others showing support. Clearly there are more expressing displeasure with what some of the players did. We've had calls from fans who say they won't support us anymore" (Baltimore SUN, 9/26).