Republicans losing interest in NFL: survey
The poll found that nearly half of respondents who identified as Republicans or as independents who lean to the GOP said they were less of a fan of the league than they were five years ago, compared with only a quarter of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic.
A significant number of GOP voters also shared their disapproval of the league’s efforts to promote the consideration of minority candidates for head coaching positions and show respect for its Black players.
Just 9 percent of Republicans surveyed said the league still isn’t showing enough respect for its Black players, compared with 57 percent of Democrats, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, 45 percent of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP said the league is doing too much to show respect for its Black players, with just 5 percent of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic answering the same.
Most Republicans also responded negatively when asked about the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching positions and some other senior positions, with 52 percent of Republicans surveyed saying they disapproved of the policy compared with 42 percent who said they approved.
The poll also found disparities based on the race respondents identified with, though these were less marked than the partisan divides. According to the poll, 26 percent of white people surveyed said the league is doing too much to show respect for its Black players, compared with 7 percent of Black respondents, 19 percent of Latino respondents and 11 percent of Asian respondents.
The new poll comes after former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed a lawsuit against the league and three teams, the Dolphins, the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos, last week alleging race discrimination in hiring practices.
In the lawsuit, Flores accused the Giants of subjecting him to what he called a “sham interview” to pay lip service to the NFL’s racial diversity guidelines. He claimed that teams have conducted such interviews to seem compliant with the Rooney Rule. The Giants have denied Flores’s allegations.
Amid the controversy surrounding Flores’s lawsuit, the Houston Texans on Monday hired Lovie Smith, who is Black, as their next head coach, a position for which Flores was a finalist.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins on Sunday hired Mike McDaniel, who identifies as multiracial, as their next head coach. Flores has alleged that the Dolphins owner Stephen Ross him $100,000 for each game he intentionally lost and pressured him into recruiting a prominent quarterback in violation of league rules and claimed that he was ostracized and ultimately fired for his refusal to engage in the Ross’s plan. Ross has denied the accusations.
The Broncos and the NFL have also denied allegations made in Flores’s lawsuit.
The Los Angeles Times/SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted during the first week of February with a national sample size of 7,590 adults.