“No more by-standing. No more ignorance. No more excuses. No more.”
These words, spoken by current and former National Football League players, are featured in new commercials from the Joyful Heart Foundation and the NO MORE campaign. The commercials focus on ending domestic violence and sexual assault, which have been prevalent issues among NFL players lately. But contrary to popular perception, there is no real connection between the NFL and these public service announcements.
The NO MORE campaign was conceived in 2009. Originally, the people featured in the commercials were celebrities such as actress Amy Poehler and rapper Ice-T. But NFL players have since gotten involved, and there are now multiple commercials featuring more than 20 current and former players that usually air during games.
Since the domestic violence cases involving star players such as Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken criticism from the media regarding the punishment of these players. Originally, Rice was suspended for just two games after punching his then-fiancee in an elevator and knocking her unconscious.
Goodell has worked to create a better policy for disciplining players who are guilty of domestic violence. On Sept. 14, just six days after the Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, Goodell sent a memorandum to league executives and team presidents regarding “organizational changes.”
According to the memorandum, the NFL would begin working closely with Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smth, all of who have worked in leading positions at prominent organizations that fight domestic violence. Randel, who would work on tasks such as creating training programs for teams and overseeing policy development, is a co-founder of NO MORE.
Also in the memorandum, Goodell says of the NFL, “Our goal is to make a real difference on these and other issues.” It is clear that he is making changes to address the domestic violence issue in the NFL, and the steps he is taking are the right ones. Nevertheless, the NFL is missing out on a major opportunity to make a difference in society.
NFL players have partnered with NO MORE independent of the league itself, which has created a perception that the NFL is involved in the NO MORE campaign. Despite player partnership and Goodell giving Randel and other respected women in the field prominent positions, there is no true alliance between NO MORE and the NFL.
NO MORE has 13 executive committee members, including Allstate and Verizon, and 22 steering committee members, including A Call to Men and Futures Without Violence. The NFL is not among these 35 organizations and corporations that partner with NO MORE.
Despite being a tax-exempt, multi-billion dollar business, the NFL has not partnered with NO MORE or promoted the organization publicly.
Why hasn’t Goodell made this move? It seems obvious that partnering with and publicly promoting an organization as socially relevant as NO MORE is the right move to make. As much flak as Goodell has received in the wake of repeated NFL domestic violence issues, one would assume he would recognize the potential for saving face that a partnership with NO MORE could bring.
Aside from the benefits that a partnership would bring to the NFL, the impact that it could have on society is huge. The NFL is one of the most universally recognized institutions in America, and if Goodell wants to “make a real difference,” he has to understand the power of his organization. If the NFL promoted NO MORE the same way it does breast cancer awareness, the societal impact would be unprecedented.
Imagine if players wore the turquoise color of the NO MORE campaign the same way they wear pink for breast cancer awareness. The campaign logo, a big turquoise O, could become as recognizable as the pink breast cancer ribbon. If players used their uniforms to promote ending domestic violence the same way they do to promote breast cancer awareness, the societal awareness for the issue would increase exponentially.
Goodell’s failure to take advantage of the NFL’s societal influence – despite his attempts to make internal changes to the NFL’s policies – is a reflection of his recent incompetence. It began with a two-game suspension handed to Rice for knocking his partner unconscious, and has continued as Goodell continually fails to capitalize on opportunities that could bring domestic violence to the forefront of the social landscape.
The NFL needs to partner with NO MORE and promote ending domestic violence. Goodell needs to end his recent stint of incompetence, understand the influence that his league holds and take advantage of the opportunity to change society.
Contact Sports editor Charlie Broaddus at firstname.lastname@example.org