Anthem protests overshadow NFL’s most exciting week to date

Anthem protests overshadow NFLs most exciting week to date

Anyone who even gave the most cursory of glances at social media on Sunday was bombarded with news of widespread anthem protests and demonstrations taking place in the NFL.

It’s understandable considering some of the huge names involved in the demonstrations, including Von Miller, Ray Lewis and Tom Brady.

But the massive amount of attention that the protests were getting also backfired in spectacular fashion for the NFL and its players.

Sunday’s games may have been the best slate of early afternoon football games the NFL has produced in years, and it’s something they sorely needed amid declining ratings.

And yet, due to the NFL community feeling compelled to make a prominent social and political statement in response to President Donald Trump saying the league should fire any player who kneels for the anthem, few people are talking about the actual football being played.

Imagine if no protests had happened, or even if the normal number of protests happened. Pundits and fans would have no shortage of amazing games and finishes to discuss.

Tom Brady came up huge in the clutch for the umpteenth time, making sure that Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans wouldn’t become the first rookie to win his first ever game in New England.

The Atlanta Falcons remained undefeated thanks to a controversial ending that left the Detroit Lions fuming. The review of Golden Tate’s potentially game-winning touchdown caused a 10-second runoff that ended the game, denying the Lions one last crack at a touchdown despite the fact he was tackled with eight seconds left of game time.

The Steelers were the first team to boycott the anthem entirely, with all but one player staying in dressing room as a show of unity. Then Pittsburgh and the Bears went on to play a parody of a game, marked by dumb penalties and questionable decisions. But the game still went to overtime, and the Bears pulled off the upset win with a 19-yard touchdown scamper by Jordan Howard.

The Eagles upended their bitter divisional rival New York Giants in a game that saw Odell Beckham Jr. return to form. The Eagles jumped out, the Giants responded, and then the Eagles walked off with a 61-yard field goal.

That’s not even mentioning the Buffalo Bills pulling off a massive upset over the Denver Broncos, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints scoring the first four touchdown allowed by the Carolina Panthers all season, the Minnesota Vikings cruising to a win without Sam Bradford, and the Indianapolis Colts beating the Cleveland Browns in a game that was far better than it had any right to be.

It was, for intents and purposes, exactly the type of thrilling games and finishes the NFL needed to produce to help stymie their bleeding viewership.

What a shame that all anyone will talk about are the anthem protests.

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