The NFL Needs to Send a Resounding Message

Posted by Brant Johnson on September 17, 2014 | Comments (2)

Although we’re only two weeks into the NFL season, the league continues to fumble the ball. Evidence of domestic violence and accusations of child abuse have rightfully overshadowed the start of a new season.

By now, you’ve likely seen the video of Baltimore’s Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée, Janay, unconscious in an elevator. Initially, Rice was only given a two-game suspension for the incident. But pressure from the media and general public has now resulted in an indefinite ban from the league for Rice.

On the heels of the Rice controversy, the NFL has faced another challenge due to the child abuse allegations surrounding Vikings player Adrian Peterson. His situation has gone from bad to worse over the past few days, with not one but two of his children now alleging violence against their superstar father. Peterson has been declared exempt, preventing him from taking part in any team activities for an indefinite time period.

These recent incidents have put the NFL in full damage control mode. The league has hired a group of women to strengthen the league’s domestic violence awareness and other social programs. But, is that enough? And is it too little, too late?

Some sponsors may be starting to think so; Anheuser-Busch released the following statement yesterday:

“Another sponsor, CoverGirl, has opted to continue its support of the NFL, resulting in widespread memes that threaten to ignite an enormous amount of bad PR for a brand that prides itself on celebrating women. A CoverGirl representative has said, “In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.”

 

So, where does the NFL go from here? For starters, a petition is currently circulating to have the league wear purple ribbons in October to support domestic violence awareness, in addition to pink they annually wear in support of breast cancer awareness. The purple ribbons are something the NFL should already be implementing on its own, even without the petition.

Last week on national television, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “People expect a lot from the NFL, we accept that. We embrace that. That’s our opportunity to make a difference not just in the NFL, but in society in general.”

With that statement, Goodell needs to step up and take quick action or remove himself from office. The league needs to look at how the NBA handled the Roger Sterling case – by taking swift, resounding action and sending a message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated.

 

 

Comments

  • Travis Justice says:

    Comparing Rice and Peterson to Roger Sterling is an apple to oranges comparison. First of all the commissioner and owners can oust their own a lot easier than they can players because they do not have a union.

    With that said, are you saying that players should not have due process? If they are accused they should automatically be suspended? Rice and Peterson are rare cases of actual video and photographic evidence but that is not always the case. There is a collective bargaining agreement with the NFL that has to be followed. Are you suggesting one and done? Out of the league for good with no chance of returning?

    Why are you not talking about Hope Solo and her domestic violence case? Is this really just an NFL problem?

    I grew up with domestic violence in my family, watched it first hand. It’s horrible! Do you now why domestic violence exists? More than likely they watched it as kid growing up.

    I agree the NFL AND the union must take a firm stance, but due process must be part of the equation. It’s easy to jump on the emotional bandwagon about an emotional subject. If Roger Goodell would have just got it right the first time with Ray Rice there wouldn’t be the uproar there is today.

  • Brant Johnson says:

    My point wasn’t to draw a comparison between Sterling and Rice/Peterson; I am simply saying the NBA handled their very public situation much better than the NFL has handled theirs. It doesn’t matter who makes the decisions…the NFL has completely dropped the ball on this.

    When it comes to due process, of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of a law. But the NFL, as a business, has to do what is best for the brand, union or not. If a player needs to be suspended, with or without pay, so be it. The 49er’s and Panthers showed this by not allowing McDonald and Hardy to play this past weekend, taking them off their active rosters before being found guilty in a court of law.
    Sure, the teams are trying to save face and maybe these suspensions wouldn’t have happened if not for the Rice/Peterson cases, but we don’t live in a world of what ifs.

    From here, the league and each individual team needs to take it a step further and get these players help. The league needs to set up a domestic violence fund and proactively get involved with domestic violence awareness. Use their star power and money to right this major wrong.

    Although the situations aren’t necessarily comparable, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis found their way back to the playing field and it wouldn’t surprise me if the players involved in these situations will, too. America is very forgiving over time and seems to be comfortable giving second chances.

    Domestic violence is a huge problem that reaches far beyond the NFL; they just have the biggest sounding board, which is why the Hope Solo story is not getting as much attention. The purpose of this blog was not to point out one domestic violence case over another, but to call out the PR nightmare the NFL is dealing with and how they could and should have avoided it, by Roger Goodell getting it right in the first place.

Add a comment

submit

Newsletter Sign-Up

Sign up here for the Albers Insider to receive information about communications trends and best practices, as well as news about our company and our upcoming events. Read previous editions of the Albers Insider here.

Albers Communications Group
The Public Relations Experts
Omaha, Nebraska
(402) 292-5553 x9
info@albercommunications.com

Let us tell your story.