For years, the NFL shield was the most respected logo in professional sports. Current commissioner Roger Goodell may have guided the NFL to a ridiculous level of financial success but the reputation of the most lucrative professional sports league in the world has not fared as well. Goodell likes to portray himself as a no-nonsense commissioner that will not let any player, team or owner get away with anything to tarnish ‘the shield’.
The bad news for Goodell in the league is that the fans and more objective media sources are no longer buying the scam. Sure, the NFL has plenty of supplicants in the media like ESPN who has made several programming and editorial decisions at the league’s behest. While that’s likely a smart business move for ESPN it doesn’t say much about their integrity or journalistic standards. The inexorable decline of the league’s image started with the slap on the wrist given to Michael Vick upon his release from prison. Most reasonable people thought that the league would make a serious statement that it didn’t like being represented by a psychopath that killed and tortured defenseless animals for fun and profit. Instead, Vick was quickly back in uniform and the beneficiary of a full scale PR white washing job orchestrated by the NFL and ESPN. If you didn’t know better, you’d have thought that Vick had spent time in a monastery tending to the sick and not behind bars for barbaric behavior of the most inhuman sort based on the NFL/ESPN’s propaganda.
The real turning point–at least with the larger fanbase and media–was the Ray Rice imbroglio and it’s being brought up again as Tom Brady has received a more severe punishment for allegedly requesting that footballs be deflated than Rice did for felony domestic abuse. Lest we forget, the Patriots have been ‘singled out’ by Goodell in the past and it’s likely that also played into the gravity afforded a silly ‘offense’. Fortunately, the franchise isn’t going down without a fight. A personal appeal from Brady and the organization is certainly forthcoming and there has been talk of legal action by Brady and/or the Patriots against the NFL for defamation.