Among the traditionally richest ratings bonanzas enjoyed by the NFL has been their prime time Sunday Night Football game. Not so, anymore.

In fact, the league is trying desperately to control the fear and chaos the ratings plummet has caused which is a direct result of antics of some NFL players to kneel during the national anthem, seen by fans as a direct insult to our flag, our country, our servicemen and women, and to police forces across the country.

The NFL has canceled its last Sunday Night Football game of the season. Some are blaming the cancellation on the fact that the game falls on New Year’s Eve, which would be erroneous, as New Year’s Eve has fallen on a Sunday many times in the past, but this is the first time the NFL has canceled a Sunday Night Football game.

From BizPac Review

In a strategic move by a National Football League plagued by challenges, the last “Sunday Night Football” game of the season has been canceled.

For the first time since 1977, the season will not end with a prime time broadcast as the NFL announced the cancellation of the season-ending “Sunday Night Football” game this week, CNN reported.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Apparently, the NFL didn’t want to take any chances with a ratings fail after a year marked with plummeting viewer and fan support in the aftermath of national anthem protests by players.

According to CNN:

Since the last Sunday night football game also happens to be the final game of the season, the NFL tries to schedule a game that will definitely have playoff implications for one or both of the teams playing. (A team that already made the playoffs might sit their starters, leading to an exceptionally boring game.)

This season, there were no such games that met the NFL’s criteria on the final week’s schedule. The NFL, which hadn’t yet announced which teams would play Sunday night, would have either scheduled a game that had a chance of being a snooze or a game that already had no playoff implications at all.

“We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. windows,” Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting, said in a statement. “This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football or New Year’s Eve that because of earlier results, has no playoff implications for one of both of the competing teams.”

Seven games have been scheduled for 1 p.m. eastern time, and nine games for the 4:25 p.m. kickoffs, as the 8:30 was eliminated.

And, while the move may not be a surprising one given the historically low ratings on New Year’s Eve, it certainly seemed a fitting end of the year for the sports league that has seen a 9 percent decline in ratings this season, according to CNN.

Twitter users reacted to the announcement with expected applause.