I am a huge NFL fan. I love the wonderful, graceful, and talented NFL players that lay their bodies on the line for my entertainment. I love seeing these people show off their talents. I like to discuss what happened in the games with other people. Sports, such as the NFL are supposed to be a fun way to escape from the world’s problems. We fans are supposed to be able to hang out in front of our TVs, or go to a bar, and watch our favorite teams play.
[adinserter block=”1″]In the past few weeks, though, the NFL has been taking body blows from the media, political figures, fans, special interest groups, and sponsors due to illegal off the field activities by various players. Lately, the NFL coverage by ESPN and other outlets has turned into CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. Instead of discussion of the games, there’s discussion of off the field issues concerning a couple of high profile players. We’re hearing about issues concerning former Ravens RB Ray Rice (Domestic Violence), Panthers DL Greg Hardy (Domestic Violence arrest), 49ers DL Ray McDonald (Domestic Violence arrest), and most recently, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (Child Abuse indictment). I am not going to regurgitate the details, as I am sure my readers are aware of them.
These events have embroiled Commissioner Roger Goodell in controversy over the questionable handling of the Rice case. The image of the NFL has taken a huge hit. The Owners and coaching staffs have been thrown for a loop as well. There’s a ton of public pressure on these coaching staffs to sit these players (Peterson, Hardy) down. The Vikings already lost a “limited” sponsor in Radisson Hotels.
As a long time NFL fan, I have to say that the sport is a mess. I remember when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took office in 2006, he was going to “clean up the NFL,” as far as disciplining players, coaches, and teams. Goodell was going to hold people accountable. Goodell was going to make money for the 32 owners, who are his bosses.
Now I’m not going to get into everything that’s happened under Goodell’s reign, but I will say that Goodell certainly has made more money for the NFL, and for the owners. I have to say that Goodell did that part of his job description well. I do wonder, at what cost? Has Goodell come down on player misconduct? Sure. Has he been consistent in that area? That, my readers, has been debatable.
There’s been a reason why I haven’t written an NFL blog since the season started. I am frustrated with how the NFL, from the 32 Owners to Roger Goodell, and especially the players are making an entire joke of what was once a very proud sport of which to be a fan. As I said, guys such as Rice, Peterson, and Hardy are making the rest of the 2000 plus NFL players look like thugs, and I am seeing their respective owners trying to sweep their legal issues under the rug. It seems that the teams do the right thing, such as sitting the player down (Peterson and Hardy receive their salaries.) ONLY when enough public pressure (threat of lost money by sponsors) is put on them.
The excuse that the team owners, such as Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, and the NFL have drummed up is, “We’re trying to get it right.” I want to know what that expression means. This is just my opinion, but it sounds like the NFL is having a hard time dealing with the fact that societal problems such as child abuse and domestic violence is at their doorstep. I also feel that the NFL as a whole doesn’t know what to do when it happens with one of their players. Goodell’s bungling, as well as the Ravens ‘ bungling of the Ray Rice case proves this.
As an American, I believe in the Constitution. I am a believer in the Bill of Rights, Miranda Rights, all of it. However, from a public relations standpoint, in my opinion, it doesn’t look good to see a player, such as Adrian Peterson, who is indicted for child abuse, on the field. I know he’s innocent until proven guilty. I just don’t think it makes sense for him to play. He was deactivated for the Week 2 game against the New England Patriots. However, until pressure came from the Minnesota Governor, and Radisson Hotels (which suspended their endorsement deal) , then it dawned on the Vikings to put Peterson on the Exemption list, so Peterson could get paid and get through his legal problems. Star DE Greg Hardy of the Panthers also met the same fate as well, as the Panthers had deactivated him Week 2, and weren’t sure about Week 3.
I don’t understand the rationale for allowing Peterson to play. I’m a capitalist, but these owners have to have some moral compass. To defiantly give fans and the public the Stone Cold Salute (WWE HOFer Stone Cold Steve Austin would give the double bird as a taunt.) and attempt to put these players on the field just infuriates me. “Try to get it right?” How about some common sense? I mean, when Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi made their statements, and Procter and Gamble withdrew support for a Breast Cancer Initiative, that’s when these NFL teams and the NFL finally got their acts together. Money talks.
I do want to say that Goodell is not entirely the blame. The owners are not entirely the blame. Child abuse and domestic violence is a societal issue. These players, as well as the executives and owners come from all parts of society. Society needs to take these issues seriously. Society is supposed to change and develop new attitudes concerning domestic violence and child abuse.
I will give the NFL credit though. Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline increased 84% since the Ray Rice case. The NFL has promoted women to positions concerning domestic violence. A new domestic violence policy is in place. I applaud these moves, even though it feels like the NFL is closing the gate after the horse has run out.
[adinserter block=”2″]The NFL is not going to solve the problems of society. However, I am hoping that possibly Roger Goodell got the message and from watching Goodell’s presser Friday, I am cautiously optimistic. He said that there will be experts looking at how people are disciplined under the Personal Conduct Policy. He said the NFL will be working with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and a National Sexual Assault Resource Center concerning domestic violence and child abuse. He said that the Personal Conduct needed to be reviewed and updated. I certainly hope that something changes for the better.
Even though I have a lot of skepticism, I hope the NFL can clean up its mess. I’m so tired of hearing these stories about yet another player arrested (most recently, Jonathan Dwyer of the AZ Cardinals for Domestic Violence) for these crimes. A few of these bad apples spoil the whole bunch. The large majority of NFL players are stand up citizens. I hope that we can hear more about them, and I hope we can hear more about the game we NFL fans love.