It begins. We suspect NFL owners, and their media lapdogs, may be about to start paying attention to what President Trump (and the fans of the game) are saying (and doing).
First, Bloomberg reported overnight that fans who agree with Trump shared lists of advertisers on social media networks while calling for boycotts along with hashtags like #PunchThemInTheWallet.
Richard Levick, a crisis communications expert, says the NFL deftly navigated the weekend’s challenges but expects no shortage of hazards ahead.
“They showed a high level of unity and independence, respecting those who participated in the protests and those who didn’t,” says Levick.
“In this era of hyper politicization -- which is being driven by the White House into everything from the Boy Scouts to the NFL -- there is no safe middle of the road.”
But now, following President Trump's warning yesterday that...
"I think The NFL is in a box, the only thing that is doing well for The NFL is the pre-game...
They can’t have people disrespecting the national anthem. The NFL has to change or their business is going to go to hell."
At least on major company has pulled his company's advertising and sponsorship money. As The Times Free Press reports, two years ago, Cleveland businessman Allan Jones was proudly showing off his newly acquired Hardwick Clothing-brand suits by providing the wardrobe for NBC's on-air talent during the network's broadcasts of NFL football games.
But after NFL players and coaches challenged President Donald Trump and many took a knee during the national anthem played before their games over the weekend, Jones said he is through sponsoring the wardrobes or advertising on stations that air the National Football League.
"Our companies will not condone unpatriotic behavior!" said Jones, CEO of the payday lending chain Check Into Cash and owner of Hardwick Clothes - America's oldest suit maker.
"For the 29 states we operate in, this isn't much to them, but it's a lot to us. The Tombras Group is our ad agency in Knoxville and our national media buyer for both TV and radio (for Check Into Cash) and don't look for Hardwick on the NFL either."
Jones, a strong supporter of Trump, directed his media buyer, the Tombras Group in Knoxville, to remove any commercials for Check Into Cash, Buy Here Pay here USA, or U.S. Money Stores from airing during NFL games "for the entire season."
As a reminder, the league and its 32 teams made $1.25 billion from corporate partners and advertisers last year, according to ESP Properties. For decades, big companies paid vast amounts of money to bask in the associative glow of the NFL’s perceived dynamism, passion and vigor. Now they’re paying vast amounts of money to bask in the fiery hell-broth of the culture wars.