Related: NFL Player Who Stood for the National Anthem ‘Explains’

Despite this drop in popularity for the league, only a few companies have actually pulled their ads from games, according to NJ.com in early October. Allan Jones, who owns Check Into Cash and Hardwick Clothes, was the biggest sponsor to go; he dropped ads in all 29 states in which his business operates, Fox News reported. Unsurprisingly, a political candidate used ad pulling as a way to affirm his stance on the issue. Rep. Jim Renacci, a Ohio Republican who is running for governor in the state, also pulled about $20,000 in NFL TV ads back in late September, according to that same report. 

The league is on the brink of losing one major sponsor and possibly more.

If Papa John’s were to go, the chain would be the first national sponsor to cut ties with the league over its anthem protests. If the company were to do so and the backlash was not extreme, other companies could follow the same course of action. 

The chair of advertising sales at NBCUniversal, Linda Yaccarino, told Business Insider last Friday that sponsors have threatened to pull ads from NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts if the network continues covering the NFL national anthem protests. 

Hence — the NFL has been warned. The league is on the brink of losing one major sponsor and possibly more. If major companies decide to go through with their threats, the NFL may be forced to rethink its stance on kneeling during the playing of the national anthem — and what protests like that truly mean.

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(photo credit, article images: Papa John’s, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Ildar Sagdejev)