As a long-time Green Bay Packer fan, I never thought I’d pose such a question.
As you know, my preferred tone is light and funny. But I’m afraid that’s impossible with today’s topic: the Ray Rice spousal abuse scandal.
The images and reality behind them are deeply disturbing. And it’s just the latest in a long series of NFL scandals. [Worst Scandals in NFL History & Shocking NFL Scandals]
Indeed, covering up appears to be the NFL’s standard response to crisis. Terrible crimes by our star players? Cover them up.
Medical evidence of crippling brain trauma? Cover it up (for decades). Pay doctors to lie in Congress. Deny traumatized ex-players just compensation, until forced to by the courts.
And yet, addicted to the product, we keep watching. The game is beautiful, and not all teams behave as disgracefully as the NFL head office.
(Some teams, like my beloved Packers, exude integrity. Packer president, Mark Murphy, and his management team seem genuinely committed to doing the right thing.)
Owners, athletes, media organizations and others associated with the NFL have become fabulously wealthy and powerful.
But standards matter. Ethical standards, like manufacturing standards, make problems visible, so we can fix them. (You can’t fix what you can’t see.)
Has the NFL, mesmerized by fabulous wealth and power, lost sight of right and wrong?
If so, how long before corporate sponsors begin pulling their advertising dollars? How long before Mothers groups boycott the league, and pull their sons out of high school football?
It won’t happen overnight – our addiction runs deep. But if a cheese-head like me is posing the above question, the NFL should be worried.