Ingrained or Magic PR: Our NFL Fascination

September was an ugly month of PR for the National Football League. The kickoff month to the season usually needs no help since the American public starts craving football about three weeks after the Super Bowl and eats it all up for at least a month. This season was a little different though.

The league had a couple things hanging over its head.  The Washington Redskins’ name controversy was heating up again and many were skeptical about the length of the suspension commissioner Roger Goodell gave Ray Rice for allegedly hitting his then-fiancé and now wife.

A video pops up showing the actual abuse and all hell breaks loose on the internet, rightfully so. A couple days, an even bigger star, Adrian Peterson is accused of child abuse.

It was a storm of horrible things and the right steps needed to be taken by the NFL. They weren’t.

The Vikings didn’t help matters when they sat Peterson for a game, reinstated him on Monday and then in the wee hours between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning announced he was being banished again.

The Commissioner went into hiding before coming out for a press conference that almost everyone in the sports media landscape said was a failure of a press conference, but here’s the thing… I write this blog post with an NFL game on the TV in front of me.

It’s not even my beloved Vikings or Denver Broncos. Just a random Houston Texans/Dallas Cowboys tilt that the suits at CBS thought I’d be interested in watching. I guess they were right.

After the Rice and Peterson fiascos came out, a lot of people took the moral stand of never watching the NFL again or at least not until Goodell resigned or was fired. I don’t know for sure how those people are doing, but I know the outcry of never watching the NFL has died down to a level that’s not even noticeable on Twitter.

The NFL stepped in a hole when they tried to take on the hits to their image after the domestic abuse scandals. It looked like the NFL would fall down on its face, but it hasn’t. I don’t know how.

I have not noticed that the NFL is doing anything out of the ordinary to make the public forget about these horrid things, but I think a majority of us have to an extent. When looking ahead to Vikings games, it doesn’t cross my mind why Adrian Peterson isn’t playing; I just accept that he’s not playing.

I don’t know if it’s subliminal PR or advertising by the NFL or if the sport is just that ingrained in my being, but it fascinates me that this could happen.

Maybe it’s because Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice have nicely faded into the background. We really haven’t heard a peep from either of them after a handful of days post their banishment.

Arrests have been made since the Peterson accusations, but none of them have taken a hold of the public’s attention like his. It’s almost like the NFL went Happy Days on us with Peterson’s case as a ‘jump the shark’ moment and now anytime something negative happens we’ll go, ‘Eh, it happened to one of the biggest stars in the NFL. Why wouldn’t it happen to the third string long snapper on the Jacksonville Jaguars?’

The NFL has produced a product that makes us not care about the negatives of the product or at least not care enough about the negatives to not still partake in the product. That’s a hell of a product.

Would you keep buying Bounty paper towels if they were a reference to the bounty put on Native Americans in the early days of this country? No, you wouldn’t. More importantly, you shouldn’t be buying Bounty because they kind of just did that.

The Daily Show did a wonderful piece on the Washington Redskins team name. It got publicity. It got a lot of publicity mainly because some of the interviewees in favor of the name felt threatened by Native Americans who were not so in favor of the name, but the piece got everyone talking. Nothing has happened.

The Redskins are still the name of a team. Commentators have tried to say it less, but it’s unavoidable. It’s ingrained to someone who’s been around football for their entire life.

The government has pulled the trademark on the team logo. The FCC is looking to see if they can fine Washington’s flagship radio station for continually using the racial slur that is the word ‘redskin’, but we don’t care.

Sure, Tuesday through Saturday (with the exception of four hours or so on Thursday night) we say we care. We say we are appalled by the Washington team name, we can’t stand that Adrian Peterson is being paid millions of dollars, but any given Sunday millions and millions of Americans sit on their coaches wearing the clothing that made the league that tried to hide the effects of concussions for years millions upon millions upon millions of dollars.

There’s no easy solution. We simply won’t stop watching football, but we can try to make more of a stir about it during the five or so days of the week when we aren’t watching the game.

Try to kick a little, the worse they can do is pay you to shut up. They’ll pay you with the money you gave them to get a louder megaphone.


Business of Sports Getting In The Way of Sports


Chances are likely that the Minnesota Vikings won’t make a franchise altering move before Thursday’s NFL Draft and it all depends who they select on Thursday on how franchise altering Thursday might be. If the Vikings were smart they would pull the trigger on an Adrian Peterson trade between now and then.

I can hear you already saying, ‘Collin! They can’t trade Adrian, he’s awesome and popular!’ That’s the problem.

The rule of thumb is that NFL running backs start to break down around the age of 29 or 30. Adrian Peterson is currently 29. He is still productive enough to be valued by a contending team, though. For a team like the Vikings that is in rebuilding mode and realistically a couple of years away from Super Bowl contention, Peterson doesn’t really fit into any plans or at least he doesn’t need to.

The Vikings find themselves in an interesting spot. When it comes to in terms of football, purely just the sport, it’s a no-brainer to trade Peterson. Football, NFL football, is not just football, though. The NFL is a business and that business keeps Purple Jesus in purple.

Adrian Peterson sells tickets and that’s why he’s still a Viking. Peterson is the only guy this team can currently plaster on billboards with everyone knowing who he is. Peterson has been that guy for his whole career with the Vikings other than two years when a certain Mississippi native was playing gunslinger, er, quarterback. The Vikings moving to the outdoors for a couple seasons and the fall out of sorts from the seat license fiasco all results in the email being sent from a New Jersey mansion to Rick Spiellman  that simply says, ‘Don’t trade #28.’

Sports being a business brings a lot of ethical questions up and only about 120 people have to face these ethical questions.  We’ve found out recently that despite the group being so small, some pretty unethical people get in.

The Vikings would be a better team without Adrian Peterson in the long run, but they are not trading him for the business aspects of the team. Is that right?

I’d think the Vikings would make more money in the long run by winning a Super Bowl than holding on to one guy, but there might be a reason that I type this on a laptop and I’m not saying it in a conference call at Winter Park.

At one time in the world of sports it was all about having a winning team and a team that might just win the championship in their sport. Now it is about making as much money as you can with the assets that you currently have. That’s the way business is and sports are now a business, we just have to deal with it.

I would trade Adrian Peterson. Everyone that could look at the situation rationally from a football sense would trade him too. It’s funny looking at football decisions by jersey sales, but that’s the world that we live in. It’s also the reason that Johnny Manziel would be an owner’s wet dream.