Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blamed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protests for the recent decline in NFL television ratings.
"I don't know if you know, but the NFL is way down in their ratings. Way down," Trump said during a rally in Colorado on Sunday, according to Sports Illustrated. "And you know why? Two reasons. Number one is, this politics they're finding is a rougher game than football, and more exciting. Honestly, we've taken a lot of people away from the NFL.
"And the other reason is Kaepernick. Kaepernick."
A recent poll by Yahoo Sports and YouGov supports Trump's claim. In that poll, which was conducted in mid-October, 29 percent of respondents said they have been watching fewer NFL games this season compared to last season. The No. 1 reason? National anthem protests, as 40 percent of that group listed the protests spearheaded by Kaepernick as a reason.
The Washington Post reported NFL ratings were down 15 percent through the first five weeks of the 2016 season compared to a season ago, though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has dismissed anthem protests as one of the reasons for the ratings decline.