Crowds remain strong at local bar for NFL game despite league controversy

AllSports Cafe in Salem says fans still packing bar to watch the games

SALEM, Va. – The 2018 NFL season is now officially underway after the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Fans, however, continue to remain at odds over the political drama surrounding the league. But at one Salem bar, fans are not staying away,

At AllSports Cafe in Salem, the fryers were ready to go and it was pretty tough to find a seat around the bar. Football season is the biggest time of the year, and there's no doubting that.

"We bring in extra servers for the football season so we have enough to take care of everyone," AllSports Cafe front of the house manager Jordan Handley said. "We have as many people as we can so they can make more money and we can make more money as well."

The National Football League, however, is now a polarizing topic and even the punchline of many of President Donald Trump's jokes. When players began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice, a boycott was called, but on Thursday night, the AllSports crowd was unswayed.

"They're going to kneel if they want to or if they don't want to, that's totally up to them," fan Mike Wills said. "In my opinion, I'm going to watch football, I'm going to watch the NFL."

Nike's decision to make Colin Kaepernick the new face of its company stoked the political fire that seemed like it was fading down. Now, people are cutting the iconic logo off their socks and lighting Nike shoes on fire. But in AllSports Thursday night, the iconic Nike swoosh logo was all around.

"It's actually a pretty good ad. I mean, I think they should've done Michael Jordan instead of Colin Kaepernick, he probably cost a lot more though," Wills said adding that he thought most people didn't even give the ad a watch after getting mad about the first image that was released with just Kaepernick's face. "But no, I don't think it's going to hurt the bar scene at all."

For AllSports, the answer is clear. It doesn't matter whether ratings are really up or down or if people are mad or not. In Salem, they're coming out and enjoying food and beer with the game.

"We love it. It's our best time of the year, it's like Christmas to us," Handley said. "We're hoping it doesn't affect us too much and we're hoping that fans keep coming out."

And as one fan put it, in two months, the playoffs will be the only thing that matters to many excited fans across the country.

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