THE BIG PITCH: What should the NFL do to combat the image that its players are out of control?




Rich Products Corp.

Buffalo, NY

The first question that should be asked is ’how does this affect our

business?’ In the NFL’s case, how have off-the-field incidents affected

sales of tickets and NFL licensed apparel? My sense is that the league

is thriving despite the recent negative incidents involving its


Therefore, I would not recommend a proactive campaign combating negative

stories that already exist - it’s costly and impossible to win. The

league should focus its attention on the long term, expanding the

education program that counsels rookies on the social dangers and other

pitfalls that come with being a professional athlete. The NFL has never

fully leveraged the hundreds of positive stories surrounding its

players; now is a great time to take advantage of that opportunity.


Eric Mower and Associates

Rochester, NY

The NFL must make its players understand that the league will not

sustain its current popularity and financial viability if public

perception continues to decline. The league should encourage player

participation in constructive activities, such as charity work and

community involvement, while making a strong commitment to publicize

these stories. Once players are in line with the new strategy,

commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the league should implement an

aggressive media relations campaign to provide targeted media with

ongoing ’positive’ news from the NFL and updates on league initiatives

to curb player violence. The league should also counsel future NFL

players on the importance of being good community citizens.




In 1963, then-commissioner Pete Rozelle felt the league’s image and

integrity were being threatened by the specter of gambling and organized


He responded quickly and harshly, suspending stars Paul Hornung and Alex

Karras a year each for betting on their own teams to win. Today, for the

first time in its 80-year history, the NFL has two of its players, Rae

Carruth and Ray Lewis, facing first-degree murder charges. It’s time for

Paul Tagliabue to respond with the same resolute will his predecessor

did 37 years ago. Tagliabue must set a standard against off-field

violence even stronger than the current rules against drug and steroid

use. Time is of the essence - Pete would understand.


The Apple Organization

North Miami, FL

I would emphasize that a few ’bad apples’ in the NFL are not

representative of the majority of players. To emphasize this, I’d turn

the spotlight on current and former players recognized for their

civic-mindedness and community involvement. Sending role models like

Jason Sehorn and Dan Marino to speak at school assemblies and before

youth groups would bring their positive message into the trenches. The

young athletes of today are the future NFL stars of tomorrow, which

means the seeds of abusive and criminal behavior are being planted right

now. To head off future headlines that paint the NFL as a collection of

overpaid delinquents, the crisis management must begin immediately

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