NFL takes another PR hit; NY Giants fumble words and inaction

Posted on by Gail

Do you remember how the NFL and its teams were going to aggressively discipline those charged with domestic violence, and assured fans that they wouldn’t stand for it any longer?

That was so 2014.

Today if you look at facts that have come to light about New York Giants kicker Josh Brown during the last six months and even more in-depth in the last 24 hours, you wouldn’t know that the league or its teams give a damn about how its personnel treats others.

We’re not talking about tackles on a football field. We’re not even talking about dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits. We are, however, talking about multi-million dollar athletes not only taking swings at their spouses and significant others, but admitting it, and experiencing little if any repercussion. In the Brown case, it was all in black-and-white if someone within the team or league would have made more than a proverbial phone call.

Like the Ray Rice case in 2014 when he admitted to hitting his then fiancée but wasn’t aggressively disciplined until video was made public, like defensive end Greg Hardy was permitted to play football for the Carolina Panthers after being convicted of assaulting his then girlfriend or Adrian Peterson going about his life until photos of his bruised and bleeding son became public, Brown, despite his own admission, was extended the privilege to continue to be paid to play football.

With Brown, the New York Giants claimed ignorance, even blamed the decision for a weak one-game suspension on Molly Brown, the kicker’s now ex-wife, for not cooperating. The NFL said it requested information from authorities but didn’t receive it. But somehow, after it shuffled that paper to the “read” pile and the Giants resigned him to a new deal, reporters uncovered legal documents that told of how NFL security intervened more than once after altercations between Brown and his wife.

The Giants’ Foot-in-Mouth Disease

For an organization whose owner once professed that “there is no excuse for domestic violence ever and there is going to be severe consequences,” he and others in the Giants’ organization have spoken as if tone deaf. And this from John Mara about Brown on Thursday:

“He certainly admitted to us that he abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that.”

— Giants owner John Mara to Mike Francesa on WFAN

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One could say that we are too hasty to assume what goes on within a team’s building, but words that have been spoken by everyone from Mara to coach Ben McAdoo have been clueless at best. I would dismiss the words, but the team’s actions speak loudly. Only when called out regarding what it knew did it bench Brown for its upcoming game against the Rams.

The NFL: all talk and hires, no action

After the aforementioned cases of the last two years, the NFL hired personnel to focus on domestic violence and investigate them more thoroughly. I said then, that time would tell if those were window-dressing hires or they were really going to change the league’s culture. Well, this week, I’m sorry to say it shows it was the latter.

The NFL and teams have long employed former law enforcement. It’s been well documented that the league is in every crevice of every controversy.

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“On any player issue, NFL security has full information within two hours of an incident. It knows everything,” said Joe Casale, a former player agent and sports business consultant.

A new PR problem, same as the old one

There has been a lot of talk about the NFL’s anti-celebration rules of late. “The sock rule” is still enforced ($5,000 to $10,000 fine to players who wear “incorrect” socks or wear the right ones too low). Accused but not proven to let air out of footballs? That will be a four-game suspension for your future Hall of Fame quarterback and loss of a first-round draft pick. Slap around your wife? You earn a new contract!

If that’s not one of the worst public relations moves an organization can make, I don’t know what is. If that doesn’t make your stomach turn, it should.

At a time when the pro football’s TV ratings are challenged because of a variety of issues, ignoring domestic violence should anger the near 50 percent of the NFL’s audience (women), and I won’t be surprised if many tune out because of it. As I tweeted yesterday, it should tick off men, too.

I’m a big football fan. I have followed and have been fortunate to work with NFL-related interests for a lot of years. This, however, truly ticks me off. I can’t be the only one.

What will you do about it NFL?

I don’t want to see your written plans or read more policies. They’re obviously just words. I want to SEE action that you give a damn about how others are treated off the field, particularly your personnel’s spouses. I want to SEE that you respect women, who spend so money from merchandise to tickets to time in front of the television to watch your teams. As for your pink month … you can save it.

As someone in the league office once said, “ignorance is not an excuse.”

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©Gail Sideman; publiside.com 2016

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About Gail

Gail Sideman is a self-described news hound that hustles to meet the needs of an ever-changing media universe. While the way that news is delivered has changed and expanded, Sideman insists that the basics and value of a great story are as entrenched in our desire to know, as ever. Stories that people want to share and hear, she says, is why delivery speed and social media has grown so popular. View all posts by Gail →

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