A new poll of black voters in eight politically competitive states found that nearly 6 in 10 said they believe NFL teams colluded to blackball former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick because of his political views and his stance against police brutality.
And more than 1 in 3 of the respondents say they watched less football during the 2017-18 NFL season because of the league’s treatment of Kaepernick.
The poll findings, collected in a telephone survey of 1,000 black registered voters in mid-March, highlight the competing tensions tugging at the NFL during an era of heightened player activism and increasingly divisive politics.
The full poll, which includes questions probing political attitudes and black voters’ views of the nation’s economic and racial landscape, is scheduled to be released next week.
“There is a legitimate, stated reason why African-Americans are watching less football: They believe there is collusion against Colin Kaepernick among NFL owners,” said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPac, a political action committee that commissioned the poll.
NFL team owners have voiced concerns about players who raised fists or took a knee during the national anthem to call attention to police violence and the nation’s widening inequality, in large part because they view the demonstrations as a turnoff for parts of their mostly white fan base.