It has been a particularly unpleasant week for the NFL. Since September 8, a video has surfaced showing Ray Rice, one of their star running backs, brutally beating his wife; former MVP Adrian Peterson is facing two separate reports (plus one criminal charge) of child abuse; and defensive end Greg Hardy was deactivated from the Carolina Panthers over a domestic abuse conviction.
Step by step, the NFL's credibility is being eaten away (and who could call them all that credible before all this?) It still remains unclear if Commissioner Roger Goodell saw the video that led to Rice's indefinite suspension and termination from the Baltimore Ravens during his initial investigation. As for Peterson, he missed one game because of his arrest, but yesterday the Vikings said he would play in Sunday's game. After that move, the NFL team lost their first official sponsor.
So, while the NFL finds new ways to upset America, here is a brief rundown of who they have already pissed off:
Fans (who respect women and children)
Are you a human being who enjoys football viewing or attending games? Do you enjoy tailgating but think the games are kind of boring or too long? Do you think women and children shouldn't be beaten? Well then congratulations, you are angry at the NFL.
Parents (who don't approve of spanking)
Sure, some parents think it is a-okay to physically punish their children. The Vikings were happy to let Peterson back on the team despite photos of bruised and scarred childrenm and former athlete Charles Barkley told CBS Sports, "I'm from the South. Whipping—we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances." But if you disagree with those two men – like former Viking Chris Carter — you are probably really angry at the NFL right now.
And if you for some reason think hitting children is appropriate punishment, or you are somehow on the fence, remember: children who experience abuse are nine times more likely to be involved in crime and almost 70 percent of adults treated for drug abuse were abused as children. If none of that sways you, take a look at the cold hard cash: child abuse costs America about $124 billion.
The hotel chain became the first business to drop their sponsorship from an NFL team, (Peterson and Ray Rice have both lost individual sponsorships.) This decision came after Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said the words "We feel strongly as an organization this is disciplining a child," in regards to the Peterson incident, in front of a banner showing Radisson's logo.
The company issued this statement:
Radisson takes this matter very seriously particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children. We are closely following the situation and effective immediately, Radisson is suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances.
The cosmetics giant issued their own statement on their Facebook page, but has not yet pulled any sponsorships:
As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, COVERGIRL believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We developed our NFL program to celebrate the more than 80 million female football fans. In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.
This came after these altered images of a Covergirl ad went viral, created by fans:
Clearly, Covergirl is not thrilled.
One of the NFL's biggest sponsors (they've been the exclusive beer advertiser for the last 28 Super Bowls), had some harsh words for the football organization. They issued this statement, but have also yet to pull their sponsorship:
We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.
Governor of Minnesota
Mark Dayton is extremely displeased that his state's football team (who received a lot of taxpayer money to build a new stadium) is keeping an accused child abuser on board. The governor issued this statement:
It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be 'innocent until proven guilty.' However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.
However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team's only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.
The White House
The NFL has messed up so much they got the attention of the highest officials in the country. Here's the statement from White House press secretary Josh Earnest:
The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society. Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that’s true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football –- and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it.
As if upsetting one branch of government wasn't enough, the NFL went for the hat trick and angered the United States Senate. (We can't prove it, but we would be willing to bet they probably also upset a Supreme Court justice or two)
Florida Senator Marco Rubio issued this statement last week, "Ray Rice should be banned by NFL for life & charged with battery by authorities. No excuse for what he did and should not be any 2nd chance."
In addition, these sixteen women senators wrote a letter asking the league to "institute a real zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence that will ensure that this type of violence and abuse has no place in the NFL." It was signed by U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.):
The university is Ray Rice's alma mater. They removed him from a "Knights in the NFL" pregame video and took his photo down, which appeared in a number of places around the campus. They are not pleased.
The pregame show for the first Thursday Night Football game after the Ray Rice video surfaced was supposed to include Rihanna. Then, Rihanna got booted. Apparently, CBS attempted to reschedule her for this week and RiRi was having absolutely none of it. She sent this tweet, "CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, Fuck you! Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this."
Later she tweeted: "The audacity..." Rihanna is very, very unhappy with the NFL. And CBS.
Dick's Sporting Goods
The day Ray Rice was cut from the Ravens and suspended from the NFL, Dick's Sporting Goods pulled all #27 jerseys from shelves immediately. One store told The Wire that customers started returning their jerseys that same day. Dick's Sporting Goods is unhappy with the NFL.
Many NFL beat reporters, including famed Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, were told by sources over the summer that the NFL had seen the complete Ray Rice tape before suspending him for just two games. The NFL has now taken to denial, denial, and more denial and journalists who are angry about being lied to, are calling them on their B.S.
The All Day Foundation, Adrian Peterson's charitable organization, disabled their website on Tuesday, because their nonprofit partners have been "harassed, judged and placed in uncomfortable positions" by angry fans. The charities cannot be happy about that.
This Sports Bar
Jack Mac's Swill & Grill in Dallas, Texas, is boycotting the NFL. This is the same state where thousands of people regularly attend high school football games because, let's be honest, Texas high schoolers would out play some NFL teams (cough, Jets, cough.) Nonetheless, the owners of the establishment were so angered by the week's events, they put this statement on their Facebook page:
Good Evening Folks, Running a bar in Texas is not the easiest thing in the world, especially when it comes to football, so I hope you will all take the stand with me, as of today, we will no longer show ANY NFL games until the league changes it's domestic abuse policies. It has gotten to the point where money is more important than women's and children's health and life are concerned, this is unacceptable in the world that I want to live in. Please join me in my small attempt to stop adding fuel to the fire and money to their coffers.
While the NFL sure has upset a lot of different people, it does not appears to affected viewership. It seems the angrier people get, the more they tune in. This Sunday night's game between the Bears and 49ers was the most watched Sunday night primetime game (on the West Coast) of all-time, with 22.2 million viewers.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.