Roger Goodell is facing a whole new wave of pressure over the NFL’s domestic violence problem… and this time, he may actually have to muster a strong response.
A slew of the league’s biggest corporate sponsors issued statements Tuesday condemning the league, which has seen several of its biggest stars hit with very public allegations — and proof of — violence against family members.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” Anheuser-Busch wrote, referring to the leaked video showing Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer, and the more recent child abuse charges against Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.
The league was harshly criticized for the light penalty it initially gave to Rice for the assault back in July, and came under even hotter scrutiny when TMZ leaked the brutal tape last week — especially when it was alleged that the NFL had seen it months earlier. Rice has since been cut by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the league.
“We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code,” Anheuser Busch’s statement continued. “We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”
The alcohol giant pays the NFL roughly $200 million in advertising fees each year, and its Bud Light is the official beer of the NFL.
Similarly, PespiCo, which pays the NFL $100 million a year to be its official soft drink, said that “Domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We are encouraged to see the NFL is now treating this with the seriousness it deserves.”
Other corporate big shots to take umbrage with the NFL include McDonalds, Campbell’s Soup, and Radisson Hotels, which pulled its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings after the team re-instated Peterson after a one game suspension. Peterson admitted to beating his young son with a switch made from a tree branch.
After the Vikings re-instated Peterson, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said that the star running back should be suspended until his case has been resolved by the criminal justice system.
On Thursday morning, the NFL and NFLPA announced that Peterson had taken a “voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues.”
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), meanwhile, called on NFL to allow Rihanna to address abused women before the Thursday Night Football telecast on CBS. The network pulled the song from its pre-game program on Tuesday after the pop star yelled at them via Twitter for cutting her from its opening week broadcast. The segment was pre-empted for a discussion about domestic violence.
The network should give Rihanna a platform, McCaskill said during an MSNBC interview, “to point out to women across America that there are domestic violence shelters that can help them in their community.”