The NFL Shield is Cracking Due to Several Current Scandals
Yes, we know, the NFL is still the most popular in the U.S. A 2014 Harris poll found that around U.S. adults said pro football was their favorite sport. Football is the most popular sport in America and the league is a financial juggernaut with a current television deal worth $5.66 billion annually through 2022. Even with a history of gambling scandals, sexist behavior by players against female reporters, and allegations of racism, the NFL always seems to overcome whatever threatens its image or bottom line. But a rash of current headline-grabbing scandals could finally damage the league’s standings. Let’s take a look at the issues percolating around the league and try to determine if they can damage the mighty NFL shield.
HOFer Cris Carter Lost His Mind
An ESPN profile of Chris Borland published this year revealed that during the 2014 NFL Rookie Symposium, a former player told him to get a “fall guy” in case he ever got in trouble with the law. In the last weeks, it’s been revealed that the former player who spoke at the symposium was Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter. Carter, who had his own battles with substance abuse during his playing career, spoke at an NFL Rookie Symposium and made several controversial statements. Carter and defensive tackle Warren Sapp are on stage when Carter talks about the need for a “fall guy”:
“Because all you guys aren’t going to do the right stuff. I need to teach to you how to get around all of this stuff too. If you have a crew, one of them fools need to know that they’re going to jail. I know a lot of you aren’t going to drink, i know a lot of you aren’t going to use drugs but still get yourself a fall guy.”
We can’t make this stuff up. Apart from being a recent addition to the Hall of Fame, Carter is a lead in-studio analyst for ESPN’s NFL coverage. Since the video has gone public, the NFL has tried to distance itself from Carter’s comments. Further ESPN said, “We completely disagree with Cris’s remarks and we have made that extremely clear to him. Those views were entirely his own and do not reflect our company’s point of view in any way.”
Carter issued his own statement about the scandal too on Twitter:
Seeing that video has made me realize how wrong I was. I was brought there to educate young people and instead I gave them very…
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) August 24, 2015
We’ve written extensively about the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his shrunken balls. To sum up our previous points, the NFL for some reason hasn’t figured out how to punish the Patriots. If you never heard of Deflategate, in this year’s AFC Championship, a win that allowed the Pats to advance to the Super Bowl — the Patriots played the game with balls that were illegally under-inflated. During halftime, officials checked the other 11 balls the Patriots and found they were all indeed under-inflated — with anywhere between one and two pounds per square inch less pressure than the minimum 12.5 psi mandated by the league.
Unless you’re a Boston apologist you know the Patriots have a history of cheating and continue to operate as if they’re 100% innocent of any accusations. Debate it all you want. The bottom line, the Patriots did something wrong and the league needs to make sure the Patriots are punished. So far, nothing has been done and the league is facing a credibility crisis again.
Player Personal Conduct
New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson has been charged with resisting arrest and multiple traffic violations after allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase in Missouri on July 14. He has since pleaded not guilty. Since the headline, more details about the arrest became public. Richardson was driving in excess of 140 mph, with a loaded weapon in his car, and a 12-year old in the backseat. Guns, speeding, and drugs. The league needs to discipline Richardson as soon as possible.
For a player already facing a four-game suspension for failing a drug test, this is more than one bad night. Richardson is one of the latest players whose off the field behavior is hurting the league. Add him to the list of running backs Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, offensive lineman Richie Incognito, and others.
Bad news on top of bad news. If there wasn’t so much money being generated for team owners, the league would be in an even bigger mess. Commissioner Goodell has got a lot of work to do. The current crop of NFL scandals can’t be ignored. Fans aren’t ignoring it and neither will critics.