Since this morning, the top trend on Twitter has been #boycottNFL—a hashtag started by opponents of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has knelt during the national anthem every pregame this season in protest of rampant police brutality in cities across the United States.
There are no immediate signs that the boycott campaign will have a significant impact on NFL viewership as the season ramps up this weekend. A more pressing concern for the league, however, is that Kaepernick's movement is gaining steam among both his fans and colleagues. Earlier this week, his #7 jersey became the best-selling apparel in the NFL store, and—in addition to his college teammate and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall taking a knee during the anthem last night—the Seattle Seahawks are reportedly planning an "expanded" protest for Sunday's (9/11) game. As support and solidarity with Kaepernick swells, the NFL could increasingly appear on the wrong side of history—especially after commissioner Roger Goodell's public suggestion that Kaepernick find a more "respectful way" to bring people together.
Meanwhile, #boycottNFL has been met with some unsurprisingly sharp clapbacks on Twitter.
Roethlisberger raped women "let em play"— Jay Washington (@MrJayWashington) September 9, 2016
Ray Rice SHORYUKENED his wife "let em play"
Black players not saluting the flag #boycottNFL
#boycottNFL ="negroes are supposed to entertain us, and NOT remind us of systematic white supremacy"— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) September 9, 2016
At a recent presser, Kaepernick had this to say about his protest:
"People are getting lost in what the true message is, and don't want to address what it really is and address those issues. And that's really the problem. I wish people would be as outraged about the murders that are happening in the street as they are about a protest." JJM