By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL has got some problems, man.
Mishandling (and borderline abetting) domestic violence incidents, ignoring the lasting effects of brain trauma for far too long, accepting money for patriotic displays at games, allowing potential collusion to blackball a particular player in an effort to save owners from dealing with some angry mail from fans, and contributing very little to breast cancer charities despite a grand gesture every year are some areas that quickly come to mind.
For years, the NFL would sooner start paying livable wages to cheerleaders before anyone from the league admitted to ever doing anything wrong. But apparently, with all of those billions of dollars rolling in, at least someone from the NFL was able to acquire some self-awareness.
In an article by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, one unnamed, “high-ranking league official” made a blunt admission.
“There’s no question our image has been in the toilet,” the official told Freeman.
In context, the comment came in a discussion about the NFL’s decision to openly oppose discriminatory laws in North Carolina and in Texas, as well as the league’s increasing openness to the LGBTQ community.
The official speaking to Freeman indicated an awareness that even if the NFL were doing the “right” thing for pure reasons, most public observers would not believe that to be the case.
“We can’t win,” he said. “If we do the right thing, no one believes we’re sincere. If we screw up, we’re called evil. So might as well just do what we have to do.”
He is, of course, very correct. The Roger Goodell Era has been marked by an overwhelming lack of transparency, an ambition matched only by the commissioner’s insistence on asserting his power over players whenever and however necessary.
Certainly, the NFL would stand to benefit by the appearance of some humanity emanating from the executive offices. Some self-awareness is a pretty good place to start.