- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the new face of the brand comes even though most voters say the NFL player protests during the national anthem are unpatriotic, according to a newly released poll.

The Pop Polling poll of 894 registered voters released Wednesday found that 57 percent surveyed agreed the refusal to stand for the anthem is unpatriotic, while 43 percent disagreed.

Voters were split on whether players who remain in the locker room or refuse to stand during the ceremony should be fired, as President Trump has said, with 51 percent agreeing and 49 percent disagreeing.

“The NFL’s national anthem protest problem is likely to continue to persist this season,” said Pop Polling managing director Macy Cambio. “With a strong majority of voters agreeing with President Trump that player protests are unpatriotic, the NFL is going to have to walk a fine line between allowing player protests on the field and further alienating their fan base off of it.”

Vox Populi Polling, which runs Pop Polling, was founded in 2014 by Republican strategists, including Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The poll comes with the NFL anthem policy still unresolved as the league and players’ union continue to discuss the issue, meaning that there will likely be no resolution when the 2018 regular season starts with a Thursday night match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.

The issue came roaring back into the spotlight Monday when Nike, which has a 10-year apparel contract with the NFL, released an ad featuring Mr. Kaepernick as part of the 30-year anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign.

Mr. Kaepernick led the take-a-knee protests during the 2016 regular season, but has filed a grievance with the NFL alleging collusion after no team signed him the following season. He opted out of his San Francisco 49ers contract in March 2017.

The poll found that 37 percent of respondents said they had become less interested in the NFL in the last five years. NFL regular-season ratings dropped last year by 10 percent over the previous season, which also experienced a decline.

Not surprisingly, Republicans polled were more likely to view the protests negatively, with 86 percent saying they found the protests unpatriotic, along with 57 percent of independents and 33 percent of Democrats.

Those polled weren’t necessarily Trump fans. The survey found 52 percent disapproved of Mr. Trump’s job performance, while 48 percent approved.

The survey was conducted Aug. 27-29 by Pop Polling Research, with a plus or minus 3.3 percent margin of error.

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