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Volume 25 No. 152
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Anthem Issue Not A Hot Topic Heading Into NFL Owners Meetings

Dolphins WRs Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson have continued to kneel during the anthem this season
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFL owners are gathering in N.Y. this week for their fall meetings, and whether by "action or inaction on the anthem conduct policy, the NFL will be telegraphing a message," according to Charles Robinson of YAHOO SPORTS. The anthem policy "doesn’t appear to be a priority at these meetings," which is "interesting, given the league passed the policy last May but then shelved it in July -- effectively sending the rule into purgatory." This has "given NFL players freedom to continue kneeling" or protesting in other ways during the anthem. A lot has "changed in the past three months." The NFL has "seen a TV ratings rebound, as well as a swath of excitement tied to young quarterbacks," all amid an "unexpected streak of silence" from President Trump. What all this means for the "future of the league’s anthem rule remains to be seen," but it is "notable that there has been little fervor over the few players who continue to engage in social justice protests." The NFL’s quandary over the anthem policy "appears to be right where some owners hoped it would land." The league is "engaging and promoting public works efforts with the Players Coalition," while a few players are "continuing to exercise their voices without getting fined for doing so." That is a "very tenable situation when ratings and excitement are up, while controversy and political scorn has withered" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15).

ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE: NBCSN's Mike Florio said there is a "positive vibe" ahead of the owners meeting because "ratings are up, and that means money eventually will be up when the current broadcast deals are up if the trend can continue." NBC Sports' Peter King noted the ratings "certainly are better, but they've been helped by some incredible games and they're also better compared to a real dip in the ratings last year." Florio: "When the ratings nosedived two years ago and went down again last year, of course they're going to be rebound again. You can't thump your chest too much until you get back to where you were in 2015" ("PFT," NBCSN, 10/16).

TALKING THE TALK: The owners were scheduled to hear talks from PepsiCo Chair Indra Nooyi and Verizon Chair Lowell McAdams at the end of today's meetings. The two companies are NFL partners. High level CEO presentations have been staples in the past of the annual March NFL meeting, not the Fall meeting, which is scheduled to end at noon tomorrow (Daniel Kaplan, THE DAILY).