Colts owner Jim Irsay doesn't want players protesting at NFL games

It's been over nine weeks since Colin Kaepernick started protesting racial inequality in America during the national anthem before each game that the 49ers play.

Although Kaepernick's protest seems to be growing in popularity with his fellow players -- nearly 20 players protested in Week 6 -- it's definitely not growing in popularity with NFL owners.

Colts owner Jim Irsay isn't necessarily against the protests, but he does have a huge problem with the fact that players are protesting during games while they're technically at work.

"I think it's the wrong venue. It hasn't been a positive thing," Irsay told USA Today this week. "What we all have to be aware of as players, owners, PR people, equipment managers, is when the lights go on we are entertainment. We are being paid to put on a show. There are other places to express yourself."

Irsay was in Houston this week for the annual NFL fall meetings, where one of the hot topics was the recent decline in the league's television ratings. Although Irsay didn't directly attribute the lower ratings to the fact that players are protesting, another owner almost did.

Texans owner Bob McNair says he wouldn't be surprised to find out that some fans are "turned off" by the protesting.

"People come to the game because they want to get away from what's happening in their everyday lives," McNair said. "When you bring those types of things into the scene, yeah, it will turn some people off. But the main thing we try to do is to say, 'We recognize your concern. Let's do something about it.'"

For what it's worth, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't think that the protests are having any impact on the league's lower ratings. Although Goodell pointed out multiple reasons for why the NFL's ratings have fallen in 2016, the protests weren't one them.

"Everyone's got theories, you guys have theories, others have theories," Goodell said. "We work closely with our network partners. We see tremendous strength in our numbers, but we also know that two primetime games that were seeing the most dramatic decrease went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our primetime games on Thursday Night was on the NFL Network as opposed to a network broadcast, which will always get a lower rating."

As for Irsay, he's not blaming the NFL's ratings problem on the protesters but just saying he doesn't think they should be protesting at NFL games. The Colts play the Titans this week, a team that had four protesters in Week 6.

The Colts only have only had one protester this season, and he's no longer with team. Antonio Cromartie was released shortly after protesting for a second time. According to his wife, Cromartie was cut for protesting.

There's also Dwayne Allen. Although Allen was on one knee during the national anthem in Week 6, he clarified that he was just doing something he does every week. Allen said that he always gets on one knee to pray at the end of the anthem every Sunday.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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