NFL ratings: President Trump takes shot at league as campaign closes

By Vincent Frank
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Fayetteville Regional Airport on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Trump 03

Within the next 36 hours or so, we should know whether President Donald Trump has been reelected for a second term. Election day is coming on Tuesday. The race between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden appears to be somewhat close with the latter leading nationally. As for POTUS, he spent election eve taking a shot at the NFL and its ratings.

Speaking to supporters in Pennsylvania on Monday, Trump took on both the NFL and NBA legend LeBron James within the matter of minutes.

Related: President Trump and NFL TV ratings

NFL ratings: President Trump takes shot at the league

“The NFL is way down,” Trump said. “The NFL is way down. You got to stand for our flag. You got to really be great to our flag and to our anthem. And if you don’t do that we’re not watching.”

This has obviously been a slogan for Trump dating back to prior to his shocking election win back in 2016. In terms of facts, he’s not necessarily 100% correct here. NFL ratings are down. However, they are not “way down” as his rhetoric suggests.

President Trump taking on the NFL is nothing new. That’s been magnified during a 2020 NFL season that has seen widespread national anthem protests following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier in the calendar year.

NFL ratings and President Trump

President Donald Trump stands with NFL owner Robert Kraft and HC Bill Belichick
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Prior to the start of the 2020 NFL season, the president called for a boycott of the NFL. He later indicated that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the season was not played at all.
  • In response, the NFL has pushed back against the divisive political personality at almost nearly every turn. That represented a break from previous traditions, including the Colin Kaepernick-led national anthem protests starting back in 2016.

NFL ratings during 2020 season

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According to Show Buzz Daily, NBC’s Sunday night broadcast of the Cowboys-Eagles game hit 15.7 million viewers. Those are great ratings for the NFL. The early numbers improved upon the 12.3 million from the initial viewership for the Week 7 primetime game.

That has not necessarily been the case throughout the season. The 2020 NFL campaign started on a Thursday night in a game between the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. TV ratings were down a whole heck of a lot as both teams took part in some form of national anthem protests.

Since then, it’s been a mixed bag. Recent examples point in this direction, somewhat contradicting President Trump in the process.

As the 2020 campaign comes to a close, President Trump has continued with his common theme. Attack the NFL and its ratings while going after public enemy No. 1, Mr. LeBron James. That was also the case during his rally on Monday.

“How about basketball? How about Lebron? I felt badly for LeBron,” Trump said. “I felt very badly. Down 71% and that’s for their championship. I didn’t want watch one shot.”

He’s pretty much on the spot here. Multiple games during the 2020 NBA Finals between the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat drew record-low TV ratings.

This also came on the heels of widespread national anthem protests around the NBA world when the season resumed back in late July. That included a boycott of playoff games by teams following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

As for POTUS, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, he’s going to continue taking on the NFL and will lead a charge against the league. That won’t change moving forward.