The National Football League: Where is the Brand Heading?

The National Football League is one of the most well known and recognizable brands in the country. I’m sure that even seeing the name “National Football League” in the title hooked a bunch of readers in. However, when does a brand become too strong? Can some brands be powerful enough to take any hit and stay unaffected?

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Over the past month, there has been much controversy surrounding this prestigious organization, which has certainly casted a dark shadow. Or has it? A few of the leagues top players, along with the league and commissioner himself, have seriously undermined the brand that we know today.

What is Happening?

Ray Rice, former Pro Bowl Running Back, was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, September 8 due to severe domestic abuse. These actions were caught on camera, sent to the League during the investigation, and then later spread virally throughout the world. He was originally suspended for only a couple of games before people went ballistic, which caused Roger Goodell (commissioner) to suspend him indefinitely. The way Goodell handled this whole situation was described by Don Van Natta Jr. as “the biggest crisis confronting a commissioner in the NFL’s 94-year history.”

Another big altercation that transpired was the indictment of Adrian Peterson; arguably the best player in the entire NFL. Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child in early September. According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the chances of either of these players returning to the field this season are “very unlikely.”

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 How Does this Affect The Brand?

To say the least, the NFL has a consistent habit of bringing in athletes that are prone to criminal activity. Any brand, no matter how dominant, would be affected negatively by the recent incidents that have occurred. Although they feel that people will support their brand no matter what, the league needs to realize that the NFL is only as good as the people that it’s comprised of. If Mr. Goodell wants to improve and maintain the integrity of the NFL brand, he must not risk providing justice for the sole purpose of maximum profitability. His days are numbered, but I still strongly feel that these instances will not affect the marketability of the League. Realistically, stadiums will still be selling out every Sunday, players will still be cashing in on huge contracts and endorsement deals, people will still be buying NFL merchandise, and the league’s main marketing campaigns (NFL Play 60, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bud Light, etc.) will still be in tact. However, the front office of the NFL should take these recent transgressions as a learning tool for future stars and personnel.

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In closing, my introductory question of whether a brand can be too strong or not can be answered with one word: Yes. People and huge corporations pay millions and billions of dollars to be able to just put their name beside the NFL’s. In essence, this league is going no where and is here to stay.

-Daniel Singer (28012859)

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