30 Jan “I’m here so I won’t get fined” Super Bowl vs. Media
The following blog post is from LTPR’s winter intern, Kevin Gaboury.
Ah, Super Bowl Media Day – a time when players, fans, coaches, and the media converge before the big game in a three-ring circus of pageantry and hoopla. It serves as forum for players to publicly talk smack about their opponents and get peppered with the tough questions, like “what will it take for [team] to win?” or “how can [team’s] defense stop [player]?” A personal favorite is the guaranteed foreign reporter proposal for a player to marry them.
From a PR standpoint, this has been a horrendous year for the NFL. Beginning with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals early in the season to the controversy over the Washington Redskins’ team name, the league has been caught on the defensive more often than the Jacksonville Jaguars on the field this year. The biggest (and most absurd) story going into Super Bowl XLIX has been Deflategate (or Ballghazi, depending on who you ask), in which the Patriots were accused of illegally deflating footballs during the AFC championship game against the Colts.
During Media Day on Wednesday, Patriots QB Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick maintained the same position on Deflategate they have previously: Deny, deny, deny.
“I think we’ve always done a good job overcoming obstacles and being mentally tough,” Brady said, essentially dodging the question. Belichick tried to blame it on science, but his theory was shot down by none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman made an interesting, valid point during media day: NFL executives should be required to talk to the media on a weekly basis like players. Well, why aren’t they? At the beginning of the Rice blowup, Goodell essentially disappeared for 10 days, leaving the media to speculate on what he really knew. Sherman’s teammate, Marshawn Lynch, is repeatedly fined by the league for refusing to speak to the media, and on Wednesday, responded to all reporters’ questions with “I’m here so I won’t get fined.”
So what, if anything, can the NFL do to save face? If I’ve learned anything in school over the past year and a half, it’s the importance of telling the truth, apologizing, and owning up to your mistakes. Unfortunately, the NFL’s transgressions run deep in the culture of an organization that may believe it has become too big to fail.
First off, the NFL needs to commit to making broad changes at the player-conduct policy level to ensure transparent, clear and honest communication takes place when something goes awry. It’s not going to be easy for the league to repair its image, but taking a stand against issues like domestic violence is a good start.
On a lighter note, it’s almost Super Bowl Sunday and we’re pretty excited around here! So who are you rooting for on game day – snacks, commercials or an amazing game?