Drew Brees believes the mistrust of the NFL league office has a role to play in the declining television ratings.
"We feel like [the decline in TV ratings] is a direct result," said Brees, who has been an outspoken critic of the way NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has handled controversial issues such as the Bountygate investigation of the Saints, the Deflategate investigation of the Patriots, and the Ray Rice and Josh Brown domestic violence investigations.
"I know the players don't have any faith in the way that things are conducted within the front office in the NFL -- certainly when it comes to any type of investigation, when it comes to any type of commissioner discipline," Brees said. "It's really kind of a joke at this point, unfortunately. And it shouldn't be like that."
Brees and Zach Strief spoke to ESPN after the Saints players had their annual in-season meeting with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. They agreed that the NFL's declining TV ratings could be a result of "probably a buildup over the last few years."
"It's hard to separate 'em. It all works together," said Strief, who is in his final years as the Saints' player representative. "The NFL front office has seemed to have found a way to make everything somewhat contentious. It feels like there's this constant assault on the players, like we're two entities. It's like they don't think they need us to do this."