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Debate spurred by NFL protests hurting local businesses

Kasia Gregorczyk
October 22, 2017 10:36 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The owners of an Albuquerque business that has been around for more than three decades is now afraid they may have to close their doors.

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And they’re blaming it on the NFL season.

Andy Hageman, co-owner of House of Football in northeast Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, said business is down 50 percent this month compared to October of 2016. He said business dipped when national debate and outcry began to rise over players kneeling during the National Anthem before NFL games, and believes the president tweeting about it only stirred the pot even more.

“We didn't expect it. We didn't see it coming, but now (that) it's here we can do nothing about it. Nobody in football is doing anything about it and we're being further hurt by the fact that the division in the country is highlighted by the comments of the president of the United States,” Hageman said.

Orders for gear and merchandise go out at the end of one football season to prepare for the next. Meanwhile, boxes are sitting in the back room of the store with nowhere to put the merchandise. The sales floor is filled to the brim with other merchandise that just isn't moving.

Hageman says he’s frustrated because, regardless of how the community feels about the sport or protests that have pervaded it, he says his store is not affiliated. House of Football sells officially licensed gear, but none of the proceeds go back to the NFL.

That hasn’t stopped people from inadvertently from the connection. Some have made negative remarks toward the store, including on the House of Football Facebook page, saying the store has lost one man's business.

Then there's Erick Ortiz, a local business owner himself, who isn't being deterred from shopping for his favorite NFL gear.

“As a Raider fan, I know (Oakland running back) Marshawn Lynch has been sitting for the National Anthem repeatedly, along with some of the other players,” Ortiz said. “But if you stop buying from a local shop, it's not going to affect Marshawn Lynch's paycheck or any other player who's kneeling, sitting or taking any other form of protest. It's only going to hurt the local business.”

Hageman, on the other hand, isn't sure how much more of that hurt his business can take. He says that if House of Football's two locations close, 24 people would lose their jobs.

Credits

Kasia Gregorczyk

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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