A New Hope?

A new season brings new hope.

Maybe.

As you might recall, the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has not been shy to on occasion, let the NFL and it’s players know how he felt about protesting during the national anthem. His criticism coupled with some other factors resulted in a drop in ratings for two consecutive years.

According to CNN Money

The league’s TV viewership dropped roughly 10% overall from last year. The premier game of the week, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” was down 10% for the season; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” down 6%; and the averages of Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS were down 9% and 11% respectively, according to Nielsen data that came out this week.

A number of factors on and off the field this season could have impacted the league’s viewership.

Early in the season, President Trump began a public spat with the league after he slammed players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice. Trump’s comments caused further debate and controversy regarding the protests, prompting more players to take a knee. The president repeatedly cited the anthem protests as the reason for the NFL’s flagging ratings.

And that followed the previous year dip.

This season’s declining numbers also follow last season’s 8% ratings drop.

Even though the NFL games are still one of the most watched events every year those drops in eyes are crucial to advertisers who pay BIG MONEY to get a spot on those games. Lost eyeballs mean the advertisers will want to pay less for those same spots.

The NFL which has only made money in the modern era wants to stop that trend dead in its tracks.

The League Commissioner, Roger Goodell, was moving to put this controversy behind the league. Yet, when the Philadelphia Eagles were scheduled to visit the White House to honor their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots earlier this year, some more bad blood spilled.

According to the Trump White House, the Eagles would only be sending five players. Via ESPN

The Philadelphia Eagles will not be attending a ceremony at the White House to honor their Super Bowl victory, according to a statement by President Donald Trump.

The statement said the defending Super Bowl champions disagree “with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

Instead of the Tuesday event honoring the Eagles, the White House will host “A Celebration of America.”

The president’s statement said the ceremony will be “one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”

A large group of Eagles players had decided not to attend, including most — if not all — of the black players, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In fact, five or fewer Eagles players committed to attend the White House ceremony, a source told ESPN’s Don Van Natta.

Not the best way to officially end the 2017-2018 NFL season.

Now with the NFL training camps just weeks away from kicking off, there might be a glimmer of hope that President Trump and the NFL can call a truce.

In a story that broke last month, President Trump asked for suggestions on sentencing commutations and pardons. One of the complaints that players vocalized was the sentencing practices for African Americans in our prisons.

On June 21 some of the players responded. According to the Washington Times

President Trump invited NFL players to reach out and suggest people who have been mistreated and should be considered for a pardon. He thought it was an olive branch to a group of football players that had been protesting during the national anthem over racial injustice, police brutality and an unfair criminal system. He noted last week that none had taken him up on his offer.

A group of them did on Thursday, although they didn’t respond with a list of convicts who might be deserving of a second chance. The players instead took to social media and the opinion pages of the New York Times to issue a plea to the president to use his position and executive powers to bring about wide-reaching change that will benefit a larger population.

“[A] handful of pardons will not address the sort of systemic injustice that N.F.L. players have been protesting,” the players wrote in an op-ed published Thursday morning by the Times. “These are problems that our government has created, many of which occur at the local level. If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn’t been listening to us.”

While some people scoffed at President Trump for meeting with Kim Kardashian that did result in the commuted sentence of Alice Johnson. I have not heard one sane argument that disagreed with that action being it shows a glaring flaw in how we sentence people in this country convicted of non-violent crimes.

I’m also amazed at how in tune Donald Trump is with blue collar issues and those not in the traditional wheelhouse of the GOP. He has consistently read middle America better than anyone else in politics and he might be close to striking something here incredibly important. Examining prison reform for ALL Americans and leading the campaign to reform it.

The President has an opportunity here not only to mend fences with the NFL as a league but also start a dialogue on prison reform that could change this country around for the benefit of all our citizens.

If I were part of the obstructionist Democrats in Congress…I would be very worried about what Donald Trump could do here.

Yet being I’m not in Congress I will sit back and watch to see how Trump and the NFL get along for this season.

I think it might have far-reaching consequences for more than just the gridiron.

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