Tim Armstrong: The Trump-NFL protest flap won't last but the underlying reason could

Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York.

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Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York.

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong told CNBC on Tuesday the National Football League’s protesting controversy, which has continued to draw sharp criticism from President Donald Trump, will pass.

“It’s been almost a year since Trump’s been in office. I think there hasn’t been a week or day that hasn’t gone by that there’s not controversy,” said Armstrong, former chief executive of AOL. “These things tend to pass in terms of the individual outputs like the NFL. The larger issue may not pass that quickly,” he added in an interview on “Squawk Box.”

After Verizon closed its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s core internet business earlier this year, Armstrong took over the new Oath subsidiary, which is a combination of the Yahoo assets and AOL brands.

When asked whether advertisers or sponsors would leave after the NFL protests, Armstrong said some might but the league will survive.

“Every sponsor has their individual decisions they’re going to make around what to sponsor and what not to sponsor,” Armstrong said.

Trump’s criticism on Twitter of players who kneel during the national anthem sparked angry protests around the NFL on Sunday. He continued to tweet about the league on Monday and Tuesday.

After Trump bashed the NFL, some sponsors began to respond but didn’t appear to take sides.

In terms of Verizon, there’s been no statement about the controversy. Verizon allows its mobile customers to stream in-market Sunday afternoon games airing on CBS and FOX, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football on their devices. Verizon paid the NFL $21 million to stream worldwide last Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens-Jacksonville Jaguars in London.

From a media standpoint, Armstrong said the NFL protests are OK. The media wants to be at the center of what people are talking about, he said, adding the company will continue to support the NFL.

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