There are many different ways to poll the current controversy over NFL players protesting the National Anthem and flag on the sideline by kneeling down.

One way to poll is whether the players “have a right” to protest. It’s not at all inconsistent to take the position that they have “a right” to protest but also to criticize and object to the protests.

Another way to poll is to make Trump the issue. If you do that, and frame the question as to whether Trump’s comments were appropriate, you are guaranteed at least half the population will poll against Trump.

There also likely are regional differences, with the places where football is more part of the broader culture reacting more negatively. A poll in Louisiana found that a majority of people want the protesting players fired or disciplined:

A new poll has found that more than half of Louisiana voters surveyed think some form of punishment should befall NFL players who protest during the national anthem.

Of the 525 registered voters surveyed in a poll sponsored by the University of New Orleans, 30.2 percent said players should be fired, while an additional 26.6 percent said they should be fined. The remaining 43.2 percent answered that neither of those things should happen.

A more important measure, to me, is the impact on the NFL brand. Perception of a brand is more lasting, and harder to restore, than an opinion on a particular controversy. (If you want to read about Legal Insurrection’s brand, see our post “Deep Values” Profile of core Legal Insurrection readers).

As I’ve written, for me that NFL brand no longer holds the emotional attachment it once did, Dear NFL: I’m not “boycotting” you. I just don’t care anymore, about you:

I’m officially over the Cowboys, the Patriots and the NFL. You were once one of the loves of my life. But now we’re breaking up, and it’s you, not me.

I’m not “boycotting” you. I just don’t care anymore.

You tried to make me care, but now I don’t care at all, about you.

It appears I might be onto something. Morning Consult does polling, but it also does brand tracking for companies.

Morning Consult has been tracking the NFL brand. In an email this morning, Morning Consult publicly released it’s survey data measuring the impact of the controversy on the NFL brand. There is no other way to slice the data – the NFL brand has dropped precipitously since the “take a knee” controversy.

Here are some of the findings:

NFL’s Brand Favorability Drops To Lowest Point Since Morning Consult Started Tracking: The NFL’s net favorability has dropped from 30% on September 21 to 17% on September 28.

NFL Takes Huge Hit Among Trump Supporters:

On September 21, 25% of Trump supporters said they had a very favorable view of the NFL and 11% had a very unfavorable view.

As of Sept 28, those numbers have dramatically changed with 33% of Trump supporters say they have a very unfavorable view of the NFL and 16% report having a very favorable view. You can see the trend lines here:

Americans Concerned About League’s Impact on Community

Today, 35% of Americans believe the NFL makes a good impact in their community. That’s down 10 points since September 13.

When hometown fans are booing the Patriots for “taking a knee,” you know it’s bad.

It’s too early to tell if this brand damage will be long-term, or something that will recover quickly.
Part of that might depend on where the protests go from here. To me, at least, the “locking of arms” by the Packers and Bears last night only exacerbated the problem. The crowd reacted by chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

I don’t want politics on the field, so whether it’s taking a knee during the National Anthem, taking a knee before the National Anthem (the Cowboys option), or locking arms as a form of protest, it’s just variations on a brand damaging theme.

[Featured Image: NFL players “take a knee” in London during playing of American National Anthem]