NFL

Danny Hooks, 123rf Stock Photo

Papa John's is ending its recently stormy role as an official sponsor of the NFL.

A lot of people watch the Super Bowl every year.

You know that. Last year about 111 million people watched. The game three years ago became the most-viewed ever, with 114 million people watching.

But football ratings overall have dropped in the past couple years. Numbers for the 2017 season were down 9.7 percent, continuing a decline from the year before.

To be clear, the audience for football is still enormous and dwarfs almost everything else on TV.

The NFL's players are 70 percent black; its fans are 83 percent white and 64 percent male, according to online sports site The Real GM.

And when it comes to the controversy over the national anthem and players taking a knee, that statistic is playing a huge role.

Updated 5 p.m. ET

NFL owners and players met at league headquarters in New York on Tuesday but put forward no policy changes regarding the controversial player protests during the national anthem.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Wednesday that the participants did not discuss the idea of team owners disciplining players for protesting, saying that it "wasn't necessary."

"Everyone should stand for the national anthem," Goodell said. "We all feel very strongly about our country and our pride, and we're going to continue to do that."

Free-agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL and team owners alleging that they colluded to keep him out of the league following his pregame protests during the National Anthem.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before games last season to protest police treatment of blacks, alleges that the NFL and team owners violated anti-collusion provisions in the league's collective bargaining agreement with its players.

"Everyone should stand" during the national anthem, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 teams, adding that the NFL will present a plan next week to help "move past this controversy."

In the memo sent Tuesday, Goodell said he is "very proud of our players and owners who have done the hard work over the past year to listen, understand and attempt to address the underlying issues within their communities" and expressed respect for players' "opinions and concerns about critical social issues."

Updated Monday 8:20 a.m. ET

President Trump on Monday defended Vice President Mike Pence's decision to walk out of Sunday's NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers in Indianapolis.

The political debate surrounding national anthem protests at National Football League games intensified this week after players declined to stand during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" after the mass shootings in Las Vegas.

Before the Monday Night Football game between the NFL franchises in Kansas City and Washington D.C., two Kansas City players sat on the bench during the playing of the anthem, while all of the Washington players stood with their arms locked.

President Trump defended his high-profile campaign against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and insisted it hasn't distracted him from hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

"To me, the NFL situation is a very important situation," Trump said Tuesday at a news conference. "I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work."

Trump complained about protesting football players at a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday. Since then, he has tweeted or retweeted on the subject more than 20 times.

Updated, 8:40 p.m. ET

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