Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Well, The Consequences Aren't Zero

Through all of its myriad scandals and general uncomfortableness, it's been taken for granted that, at least in the short term, the NFL is an unassailable juggernaut. It's not going anywhere, any damage done to it will be maybe a decade down the road or something. Take your pick. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, the Redskins name, the rumors that the league went around calling teams and asking them to consider signing Michael Sam to avoid the optics of him not having a job (denied by Jerry Jones), add them to the ongoing matters concerning 18-game seasons and continuous courting of London and concussions and former players shooting themselves in the chest so their brains can be studied for signs of deterioration (see also: Junior Seau), and even residual feelings from recent matters such as Bountygate and the suicide of Jovan Belcher. I may have missed something. I probably did.

(scans Google News) Oh, hey, Reggie Bush too. Why not?

In the end, the theory going is that the NFL simply has too powerful a grip on our collective consciousness. Too many people feel they not only want to watch, but have to watch, and as long as people care enough to watch, that's what the NFL wants. Eyeballs and money. And we are going to give it to them, disgusted as we are. The ratings are bearing it out. Maybe in a decade we'll stop. Maybe.

The NFL's sponsors, though, seem to be drawing the line right here, right now. The first appears to have been Radisson, sponsor of the Minnesota Vikings... well, at least they were until yesterday, when they pulled their sponsorship regarding the Adrian Peterson scandal. Although others have not followed them out completely, others are signaling their respective warning shots or scaling back in relevant ways. And they're not small sponsors either: Anheuser-Busch, Wheaties, Nike. Sponsors that always put themselves on any big-ticket sport they possibly can and sign big contracts to get their name associated with sports. These are not sponsors a major sports league wants to anger in any way, shape or form.

If anything results in the eventual ouster of Roger Goodell as NFL commissioner, as much as you'd like to think it's due to the moral degrade of everything associated with the NFL, it will in fact probably be a sponsor exodus. Time will tell if that in fact happens, but I don't think it'll be too long before we know if it does.

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