The National Football League is on the verge of panic mode over plummeting television ratings in 2016 and the public relations flacks are out in force with their spin. NFL friendly pundits are busily speculating as to what exactly has caused the shocking rejection of the 800-pound gorilla of professional sports and pushing such wild-assed theories that ratings are down due to it being due to the election.

What is obvious to many but continues to be denied by the league is that the effect of cop-hating militant San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his growing number of disciples. Kapernick’s decision to thumb his nose at the flag has turned off millions of viewers who are tuning out rather than be subjected to millionaire whiners making political statements.

But the league continues to deny that it is a factor and one of the biggest naysayers is Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Yahoo Sports is reporting “Roger Goodell has reasons for TV ratings drop: ‘We don’t think we’ve lost viewers’”:

The biggest subject of the NFL’s first six weeks might not be the Dallas Cowboys’ great start or Matt Ryan’s unlikely resurgence or the league’s return to Los Angeles.

It’s probably the dip in television ratings.

Some of it is an overreaction. Ratings are down, but the NFL still pulls in television ratings that blow away every other sports league. The ratings had to reach an apex and drop at some point, especially with the way people consume media in a more diverse way. The NFL is a prisoner of its own success in the television ratings debate.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t sound freaked out.

“We don’t think we’ve lost viewers,” Goodell said, according to USA Today’s partial transcript of his press conference fat the owners’ meetings. “When you look at ratings, you have to look a little deeper than that. It’s viewers, but also how long they’re engaging for. A lot of times, people will leave a game for whatever reason.”

Claiming to not lose viewers seems a little too optimistic, but part of Goodell’s job is to put on a happy face. He did have valid reasons for the decline. Two prime-time games went against presidential debates. Another prime-time game was exclusively on NFL Network, which is bound to get lower ratings. Some prime-time games haven’t been close from wire to wire, which causes viewers to turn it off.

One thing Goodell refused to cite as a reason was the national anthem protests by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others.

“We don’t think that’s a factor and neither do our network partners,” Goodell said, according to USA Today.

While Goodell is in quite a pickle over the entire Kaepernick kerfuffle some owners disagree. For instance Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay who according to USA Today:

“I think it’s the wrong venue,” Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told USA TODAY Sports. “It hasn’t been a positive thing. What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself.”

Irsay’s view is undoubtedly shared by other owners who frown on the protests drawing attention from their product. Given the intense backlash against Kaepernick, it’s plausible that people have turned away to protest the protests.

“People come to the game because they want to get away from what’s happening in their everyday lives,” McNair said. “When you bring those types of things into the scene, yeah, it will turn some people off. But the main thing we try to do is to say, ‘We recognize your concern. Let’s do something about it.’ “

It would seem that Mr. Irsay is onto something and while Goodell has made he and his fellow owners gazillions of dollars, his reign has been marked by ugly and unnecessary controversies. Like this year where a future Hall of Famer and NFL legend named Tom Brady is suspended for four games over a dubious cheating accusation while an underachieving loser like Kaepernick has become the new face of the league. If ratings continue to drop then so might the hammer on Goodell whose refusal to nip the national anthem fiasco in the bud is costing his employers money.

This will be a very interesting story to watch as the season plays out and ratings keep dropping.