While the NFL and President Donald Trump believe that the #TakeAKnee movement is to blame for the declining TV ratings, a study by USA Todayreveals that the protests had little impact.

USA Today reviewed comScore data from 2016 and 2017 that counters the claim that the NFL was taking a hit because of the players’ decisions to kneel. According to the report, the NFL actually had a small uptick – a 1 percent increase in ratings during the first four weeks of 2018.

Even though the timing aligns with when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem in protest of racial injustice and police shootings of Black men, the ratings drop by 17 percent in that year was already happening, according to the study.

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The Daily Mail posits that While the research did support a ‘weak’ Trump effect, it more often pointed to football factors, such as the success of the local team.

“So while it’s true that the five markets where NFL ratings saw the biggest decline all voted primarily for Trump – seemingly lending credence to the idea that the protests caused the ratings to fall – they also happened to occur in markets with struggling franchises.”

The NFL blames the protesting players for weak ratings

Last October, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, blamed the players who protested.

“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Jones said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Jones also stated that NFL sponsors had expressed “concerns” about the protests and added that it would be hard to have a visible protest if people are tuning out.

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“[O]ur ability to be substantive is based on having a strong NFL, a league that people are really interested in and want to watch games,” Jones said. “At all times, if I am anything, I am first and foremost a proponent of making the NFL strong. Making us have as many people watching the game as we can and watching in light of what we are doing and that’s playing football.”

“If all this makes you stronger to represent messages, let’s don’t do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL,” he added.

And then at the end of November 2017, the NFL tried to get the protests to stop by pledging money.

The organization reportedly agreed to give nearly $100 million over the next seven years to social justice causes.

The deal was reached between the NFL and a coalition of about 40 players concerning causes that are important to the Black community, such as criminal justice reform and police reform.

The language in the agreement does not call on the players to stop their national anthem protests in return for the donations, though the NFL hopes that by acknowledging the protests’ root causes and taking action, they will be able to put an end to those protests.