NFL Ratings Fall: Ray Lewis' Prayer Protest & 'American Sniper' Widow's Reaction
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The NFL's TV ratings are down 11 percent compared to 2016. The ratings drop comes amidst widespread protests by NFL teams after a feud with President Donald Trump who blasted players for protesting the national anthem.
Nielsen Company said the games averaged 17.63 million viewers for the first three weeks of last season, and have dipped to 15.65 million this year.
Trump has suggested that fans are turned off by those protests by football players. Wednesday he stood by his argument, saying football players can protest during a game "but they cannot do it during the national anthem."
He says when players kneel during the anthem "they're not respecting our country."
Former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started the protests last year by refusing to stand during the national anthem in opposition to police brutality of blacks and other minorities.
They spread last weekend after the president argued that players who kneel in protest during the anthem should be fired.
A new poll by Remington Research shows 64 percent believe NFL players should "stand and be respectful during the national anthem."
Some fans, outraged at the protests, plan to tune out the games, give up their season tickets and spend their Sundays away from the TV or the stadium.
Taya Kyle, wife of "American Sniper" hero Chris Kyle, has joined the counter protests.
She wrote a letter to the NFL on Facebook saying: "Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport."
"You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division. Will we stand with you? Will we stand with our flag?" she asked. "You have lost me here."
On the other side, more than 200 NFL players have participated the protests, including former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis.
Lewis knelt with other Ravens players during the playing of the anthem before the team's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London.
In a radio interview on the Scott Garceau Show Tuesday, Lewis talked about his decision to kneel.
A devout Christian, Lewis said he chose to kneel on both knees. "You can protest, I'm gonna pray," he said.
He added, "I took two knees because I have a First Amendment right just like everybody else. And when I came out of that locker room, I had a choice to make."
"And look at my fellow players and I looked at these young guys. I'm not in the protesting business, I'm not into this, whatever Trump wanna say. I'm not into that mess, but if these young boys doing what they doing, then I got to meet them where they are," said Lewis.
He went on to say, "I'm not in the league anymore, so the Trump comments don't bother me, but they're so out of order."
"You're just talking about kids, you're talking about the kids who got mothers, mothers who sacrificed everything and families who sacrificed everything, and now you don't give us no platform to say nothing on — it just baffles me that he would come out and say something like that."
Lewis says he felt compelled to stand by his teammates.
"I would never protest against my flag. It's just me. I do too much for my country, I do too much for my city, I've invested my life into making people around me better, and the people less fortunate than me."
Meanwhile, Lewis' decision to kneel isn't sitting well with his fans. More than 30,000 people have signed a petition to remove a statue of him from the Raven's stadium in Maryland.
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