The New England Patriots won their eighth game in a row on Sunday, beating the Buffalo Bills, 23-3, giving them a commanding four-game lead in the AFC East. Overall, their offense is scoring a league-high 13.1 points per game more than expected after taking into account each play’s down, distance and field position, and their defense has improved to one of the best in the NFL this season (more on that below). No wonder they are No. 1 in this week’s rankings and the odds-on favorite to be this year’s Super Bowl champions.
While Kaepernick has been unable to latch on with a team since becoming a free agent in March, which many attribute to his social activism, a handful of players began the season staging their own protests, including kneeling, sitting or raising a fist during the anthem. That number ballooned to more than 200 in Week 3, while some teams chose to stand with their arms linked in a show of unity, after Trump sharply criticized the protesting players at an Alabama rally, using the term “son of a bitch.”
On Sunday, there were far fewer protests involving kneeling, amid reports that several NFL teams had told their players to stand. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who in the past has vocally supported his players’ right to protest, said, “I think it’s incumbent upon players today, if that’s how the public is looking at it, is to stand and salute the flag.”
It’s easy to forget about this move since it happened last Friday before all the craziness went down, but it involved as talented a player as any moved this past week. Marcell Dareus is arguably the most talented nose tackle in the NFL. He had 19 sacks in 1,549 snaps from 2013 to 2014, but hasn’t been able to replicate that production since.
Papa John’s was the highest-profile sponsor to publicly pressure the NFL to resolve the protests, according to The Post’s Tracy Jan.
At the time, Ritchie, the Papa John’s COO, added that the pizza chain has been the most recognized NFL sponsor for the past two years — hinting that its success is more connected to the league than is the case for other pizza purveyors.
He said that he expected the earnings decline for Papa John’s “to persist” until “a solution is put in place” by the NFL for its player protests. Papa John’s has been a league sponsor since 2010.