NFL will have to work to salvage reputation after recent scandals
Public confidence in the NFL has taken some big hits in recent weeks, and commissioner Roger Goodell would be wise not to ignore the potential damage.
By Geoff Baker
Times staff reporter
...Richard Torrenzano, chairman of The Torrenzano Group, a reputation-management firm, agrees the NFL can’t simply duck behind “The Shield” this time. To do so risks inviting congressional oversight hearings, hearings by local elected officials on deals with some of their teams, even more negative media coverage and the kind of spotlight that is extremely bad for business.
“This is something that has really affected the soul of America,’’ Torrenzano says. “And I think that soul basically says that we play by fair rules and we don’t beat up women and we don’t beat up children.
“And when that happens, people tend to revolt. And I think that’s what you have on your hands. I think they’re going to be given a chance to change it, but they have to change it quickly.’’
Torrenzano said Goodell is taking the proper steps now. He cites the naming of former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate the league’s handling of the Rice affair as a critical step. The result of that inquiry will be key, he says, as will implementing changes. Both Torrenzano and Passikoff say the league will regain shaken fan confidence if it shows humility and rectifies mistakes.
They also agree all leagues can learn from the missteps of the NBA and somewhat-arrogant former commissioner David Stern throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. A league that peaked in popularity in the 1980s took years to live down the image hits from the Latrell Sprewell choking incident in 1997, a 2004 player-fan brawl in Detroit and numerous off-court scandals.
“We always want to give people in this country a second chance,’’ Torrenzano says. “If you do your penance and your time and you’re apologetic about it, we always want to give them a second chance. But that second chance doesn’t happen immediately.’’
In other words, Goodell and the NFL have some penance to deliver. That will mean lowering “The Shield” a bit in favor of a chastened, humbled league that fans and sponsors will want to keep buying into.
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