Report: NFL hired firm to conduct poll gauging public opinion of Colin Kaepernick
Many NFL teams have tried to push the narrative that Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned because he is not a fit for certain systems or is simply not a good enough player, but a poll the NFL paid to conduct last year may tell a different story.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that the NFL hired a firm in Washington to gauge the public’s opinion on whether or not Kaepernick should be signed by a team. The poll, which was conducted by a firm co-founded by then-NFL communications chief Joe Lockhart, collected data on some of the polarizing topics surrounding the league including domestic violence, player protests, player safety and gambling. Kaepernick was reportedly the only player who was mentioned by name.
More from Robinson:
According to sources, the NFL approved research that sought two pieces of information: Whether Americans believed Kaepernick should have been signed by an NFL team; and given that Kaepernick remained a free agent, whether fans believed that was because he refused to stand for the national anthem or due to his on-field performance or other reasons.
The sources said the poll also explored overall attitudes toward the potential disciplining of players who refused to stand for the anthem in protest over racial and social inequalities. That data was then divided into multiple demographics, sources said, including whites, African-Americans and Latinos, Democrats, Republicans and independents, and Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.
As you might expect, Robinson was told by sources that the poll revealed a majority of white NFL fans, Republican fans and Baby Boomers supported disciplining players who took part in national anthem protests. Fans who identified as African-American, Latino, Democratic, Generation Xers or Millennials largely did not.
The poll may be very relevant to Kaepernick’s ongoing collusion case, as it was conducted just months before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a memo stating that the league believes everyone should stand for the national anthem. Kaepernick filed his formal complaint days after that memo went out.
If you have seen the NFL’s new national anthem policy, it is no secret the league was concerned about the impact protests have had on its product. However, mentioning Kaepernick by name in a poll like that could prove to be a significant mistake.