Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber said on Thursday that the NFL is raking in buckets of cash, despite the national anthem controversy.
Barber was discussing Nike’s decision to name controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign, when Stuart Varney asked whether he was in favor of bringing back the controversy.
“I don’t believe that the controversy should be elevated like it’s been elevated, but the discussion is important,” Barber said. “Protests have led to what has made America great. So to make it into something that is either black or white, meaning you are against this or you are for this, it’s kind of an insult to the complexities of America right?”
“Fair point, but football is hurting because of this,” Varney replied.
“Is it really? Football has record revenue,” Barber responded.
“Ratings are down 9 percent,” Varney said.
However, in Barber’s opinion, TV ratings are down because America’s perception of the NFL has changed.
“Pizza Hut replaced the existing producer of pizza for the National Football League, [and] paid a premium to get into the National Football League. Look at the salaries. Aaron Rodgers is making $33 million a year. Why? Because people build new stadiums. The naming right revenues,” he said. “Everything that is germane to the success of the business is increasing with the National Football League.”
Barber added that people are also shifting toward mobile devices to watch games. However, Varney maintained a different perspective.
“This is America’s sport. What about those folks sitting back at home – they want to see a football game and what do they got – an anthem protest,” said Varney.
“Do you see the anthem protest? When was the last time you saw one watching a game on television?” Barber asked.
“I will not watch it. I’m a newly-minted American citizen and I’ll be damned if I’m going to see the flag of my adopted country that I am now a legal citizen of – I am not going to see it trashed by millionaire athletes,” Varney replied.
“They are not disrespecting the anthem, they are in essence using their stage, their platform, to make a point. One that we have now been talking about for two years. When was the last time an athlete did something that was forced us [as] a consumer, as a country, as media to talk about for two years? No matter what we want to say about Colin Kaepernick, the sport is thriving,” said Barber.