Youth Football Players Kneel During National Anthem

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The National Football League's television ratings were down this season, leading some to question whether anthem protests had turned some fans off.

According to USA Today, the average audience across the four broadcasters of NFL games fell 10 percent in the 2017 regular season.

This follows an 8 percent drop across CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN last season, when former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players began kneeling for "The Star-Spangled Banner" before games.

Even with the lower viewership, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" is still expected to be the most-watched prime-time show of the year, while Sunday daytime and Monday night broadcasts continued to dominate rival programming.

Usually the regular season ends with a Sunday night matchup, but the league did not schedule one for last weekend, citing fans likely to be busy with New Year's Eve celebrations. 

Throughout the season, many observers noted the seas of empty seats at NFL stadiums, though Commissioner Roger Goodell said total attendance only fell by 1 percent. 

President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to once again shame NFL players who choose to kneel for the national anthem, arguing it is disrespectful to U.S. service members and their families.

Trump stoked the controversy in September at an Alabama rally, calling on NFL owners to get rid of any players who protest the anthem.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now -- he's fired,'" he said.

On "Fox & Friends," Brian Kilmeade said the league is also facing a long-term issue in terms of declining youth participation because parents are worried about concussions.

"It's a juggernaut which is showing vulnerability for the first time in my lifetime. All I've seen my entire life was the NFL growing with no end in sight," he said, adding that he believes the league is up for the new challenges and will ultimately "straighten out" the anthem issue.

Watch the discussion above. 


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