The National Football League is taking hits these days, but they’ve occurred in ratings, not the field of play.

A new Fox News Poll finds that since 2013, the league’s favorable rating has dropped 18 points.

As of today, 46 percent of voters have a positive view of the NFL while 41 percent view it negatively. The last time the question was asked was four years ago. At that time, 64 percent had a positive view of the league while 19 percent were critical.

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“If the NFL were a political candidate, alarm bells would be going off in campaign headquarters,” says Democratic Pollster Chris Anderson who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Pollster Daron Shaw.

The owners appear to be hearing the alarms, but a majority of the players do not.

According to the poll, the downward shift on favorability comes mainly from Republicans (-37 points), whites (-23 points), men (-23 points), and independents (-14 points).

Majorities of Democrats and nonwhites continue to have a favorable view of the NFL, yet there’s also a drop in favorability among these groups. Positive sentiment among Democrats is down 6 points (66 percent in 2013 to 60 percent now) while among nonwhites it is down 3 (64-61 percent).

Amid the controversy, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear in an October 10 letter to team executives that the league thinks, “everyone should stand for the National Anthem.”  Americans, however, are increasingly more likely to think kneeling is an appropriate form of protest.

Forty-four percent think kneeling during the national anthem is appropriate, up from 41 percent who felt that way last month and 32 percent who said so last September.  Sill, a majority thinks it is inappropriate (52 percent).

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Most Republicans (88 percent inappropriate vs. 12 percent appropriate), baby boomers (61-33 percent), men (60-37 percent), and whites (60-38 percent) think kneeling during the national anthem is inappropriate.

The opposite is true for Democrats (67 percent appropriate vs. 27 percent inappropriate), millennials (65-32 percent), and nonwhites (61-30 percent) who think kneeling is an apt form of protest.

Women (50 percent appropriate vs. 45 percent inappropriate) and independents (46-50 percent) are more divided on the issue.

Voters who have an unfavorable opinion of the NFL overwhelmingly think kneeling is inappropriate (78 percent), while those who view the NFL favorably think it’s appropriate (62 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,005 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide. It was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from October 22-24, 2017.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.

Few people involved in the NFL’s ongoing national anthem debate are as qualified to discuss the subject as former Pittsburgh Steelers halfback Rocky Bleier.

Bleier, 71, served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He lost part of his right foot due to a combat injury and had to fight his way back into the NFL after returning from the battlefield.

For Bleier, a four-time Super Bowl champion, the situation is very much cut and dry, and he sees a “simple” solution to the issue that has plagued the NFL for the past 14 months, reported Yahoo Sports.

“It’s very simply this: This is a workplace, you are at the stadium, you are working that day, this is not a platform for protest,” Bleier told Yahoo Sports. “The American people, they can’t go to their workplace and start to protest about whatever may be happening in their life. That wouldn’t be allowed and that shouldn’t be allowed in the NFL.

“It’s not a violation of the First Amendment at all. You have off days, you can do it outside of the stadium or on other platforms, but not the gameday platform. It’s a very simple question and people are making it more complex than it really is.”

(Photo: @SportsCenter Twitter)