Amid a season of controversy, images of NFL stadiums with numerous empty seats have gone viral.
Users on Twitter and other social media accounts shared pictures of empty seats at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium, the New York Jets game at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the Atlanta Falcons’ stadium, the Houston Texans’ game, and surprisingly, empty seats at the Baltimore Ravens’ home game, reported the IJR.com. The photos were reportedly taken during last Sunday’s games, on Oct. 15.
Some have speculated that the empty seats are the result of NFL boycotts by fans in response to players protesting during the national anthem.
Before the Jaguars game on Sunday, for instance, a former fan flew a banner over the stadium with this message: “Be American. Boycott the Jags & the NFL,” Jacksonville.com reported.
— Bradley Wilson (@brad_gohornsbkw) October 15, 2017
You know who isn't winning? The NFL. This was kickoff time in Jacksonville. Look at those empty seats! pic.twitter.com/fd7CwOuHk4
— Fistful of Doom (@fistfulofdoom) October 15, 2017
This week, NFL executives met amid the protests, Reuters reported.
The NFL did not seek commitments from its players to stop kneeling during pregame renditions of the U.S. national anthem but rather focused on helping them in their political activism.
Empty stadiums. NFL is dead. pic.twitter.com/uARZN3RbMc
— Stephanie Costello (@Stello_Official) October 18, 2017
— Blake Alexander (@BAMTrades) October 15, 2017
“We spent today talking about the issues that our players have been trying to bring attention to. About issues in our communities to make our communities better,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters.
President Trump has called on fans to boycott games if players persist in protesting during the anthem. He also said that players who kneel should be fired or suspended.
“Today’s discussion with our players was very productive and very important. It reflected our commitment to work together with our players on issues of social justice,” said Goodell. “Our players are men of great character. They have a very deep understanding and tremendous knowledge of the issues that are going on in all of our communities, and their commitment to addressing these issues is really admirable.”
The protest was started by Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who claimed that he was protesting against police brutality and racism. After becoming a free agent before the start of this season, he hasn’t been able to find work in the league.
Reuters contributed to this report.