Is the best run sports league in the world teetering on a monumental collapse? The $10 billion+ industry has built up an empire. TV deals, endorsement deals, apparel and the players themselves have created a product unparalleled by any other league. As soon as teams open their doors every Sunday, they are rolling in the green….ok except the Bills and maaaaybe the Jaguars. But is the NFL actually about to tank?
No matter what seems to happen outside the field of play or even on the field, the NFL always seems to have an answer to keep the critics at bay. There have been so many incidents that have potentially given the league a black eye (ie: Brett Favre sexting a cheerleader, Ray Lewis murder charges, Michael Vick dog fighting ring, Patriots Spygate, numerous arrests and convictions of players across the league), but it always seems to be status quo.
That list of incidents is not something any company, family or organization would want to associate with and yet the NFL seems to go by a motto of “If we wait long enough, you’ll forget and forgive”. If you think about it for a second, that rings pretty true. However, with the string of activity in the news this past month; the NFL may not be able to push this under the rug. It isn’t about saving face and making everything good again, it isn’t about reacting to public sentiment; It’s about admitting they have been so wrong about their role in all of this and rebuilding an image that has been heavily tarnished.
The Ray Rice elevator knockout case was the first blow that really put the NFL and Roger Goodell in their place. Lying, coverups and more lying only made it worse. Ray Rice knocked out his then fiance in an elevator and the league literally said a two game suspension was plenty long because he had never done anything like that before. This coincided with repeat offender, Josh Gordon, enjoying the green leafy cigarettes and being suspended for a whole season. Seems fair.
This whole situation seemed laughable, and then, the elevator video was released. For whatever reason, things THEN became real. Or did they? After Rice was released from the Ravens and indefinitely suspended by the league, it seemed like the NFL had done enough. Again, a handful of suspensions were being applied for using banned substances at the time the Rice incident was going on. Four games here, a few games there; the NFL was handling business as usual, despite public outcry.
It might have been salvageable at this point for the league and maybe if they did enough, it was again a case of apologize and wait for people to forget. Adrian Peterson didn’t help that theory. “All Day” as he’s called was charged with child abuse when he disciplined his four year old son with what is called a “switch”. A switch is a whip like tree branch used for discipline instead of say, a leather belt. After the photos of the “beating” took place, there was no turning back.
The NFL now officially has a problem they can’t sweep away. Despite the press conference that was issued, the promises that were made and the apparent support from the owners of the NFL teams, Roger Goodell may possibly run the league into the ground. Sometimes you can’t climb until you fall. Domestic violence, child abuse, rape, animal abuse and even murder are becoming all too familiar lingo in the NFL and the sponsors and supporters of the league have finally had enough; they aren’t taking this lying down.
Anheuser-Busch aka Budweiser has not so nicely said that if the NFL doesn’t get their act together, their $1 billion agreement is very much in jeopardy. Money talks. The moment you don’t have it anymore, is when you start to listen. It’s really tough to say how intently the league IS listening but their immediate acts are a good start. Other sponsors have already pulled their support of athletes because at the end of the day public image is job one.
The NHL needed two lockouts to get their act together and now the league is stronger than ever. Might the NFL need a wakeup call that drastic? Time will tell and $10 billion a year is quite a statement.
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