The Tennessee Titans opened their NFL season with an away game in Miami Sunday, where three members of the Dolphins protested the playing of the National Anthem. Two were ‘kneelers’ and one raised a fist.
NFL ratings were down as the league kicked off another season three days earlier on Thursday. Though the controversial kneeling during the National Anthem took a night off on Thursday, apparently so did a lot of viewers. The season opener between Philadelphia and Atlanta drew the lowest number of viewers for an opening telecast since 2009.
According to Deadline Hollywood viewership was down 8% from last year’s kickoff between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers of September 7, 2017. The Eagles-Falcons game was not only down from last year, but also lower than 2016, 2015 and 2014 – in which each saw declines from the previous year.
President Donald Trump chimed in about the predicted protests just hours before the Sunday kickoffs. “Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
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
Just a few hours after Trump’s tweet the “kneeling” indeed returned with three Miami Dolphins protesting during the National Anthem be-fore their contest with the Tennessee Titans. Dolphins Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the playing of the National Anthem at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Miami defender Robert Quinn joined in by raising a fist in protest.
Soon after the game began, Colin Kaepernick tweeted his support for the kneeling wide receivers.
Kaepernick: “My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward!
“Love is at the root of our resistance!”
Kaepernick did not mention Quinn’s raised fist.
On the field, the Dolphins and Titans both struggled offensively and with the weather, as two long rain delays interrupted the game and produced a record setting 7 hour 8 minute contest that seemed unlikely to ever end. Ultimately, the game finally ended with the Dolphins prevailing 27 to 20.