Some think the NFL is reeling. Others think the league is doing just fine. Though its numbers appeared to decline again in 2017, there's no question the NFL remains the king of American sports.
Nonetheless, Republican Senator Ted Cruz believes the league "did itself a lot of harm" with players' national anthem protests last season.
"I will say, I think the NFL did itself a lot of harm last year," Cruz told TMZ. "An awful lot of their fans, folks who go to games and like to cheer on football, found themselves thrust in the middle of politics."
The protests began with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in the 2016 preseason.
"People ought to be able to enjoy football without it being turned into a political statement that many understandably see as a slight to our flag and to the many people who stood up and fought to defend our country," Cruz added.
Cruz previously commented on the controversy in Sept. 2017.
"I believe in free speech for people I agree with and people I disagree with," he said at the time. "Colin Kaepernick has every right to say what he wants to. He has every right. If he wants to disrespect the flag, he can. And the rest of us have a right to express our views."
Kaepernick and former teammate Eric Reid, who joined the protest, are currently suing the league for collusion. Neither player has been signed to another NFL roster, though it seems both players belong in the league.