The NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell are facing a reputational crisis after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady beat the league in the "Deflategate" court case, with the judge erasing his four-game suspension on Thursday, say PR pros on Twitter.
Super Bowl -winning quarterback Brady was suspended after the league investigated accusations that he had knowledge of the intentional deflating of game balls to make them easier to throw, catch, and handle during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January. The Patriots handily defeated the Colts 45-7.
And the dispute isn’t over. On Thursday afternoon, the NFL appealed the decision.
Last September, Goodell also faced criticism from PR pros on social media following a press conference where he discussed the league's treatment of domestic violence cases. During the presser, he announced partnerships with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and apologized for his handling of the incident involving former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice.
Despite media and women’s advocacy groups calling for his resignation at the time, Goodell did not step down from his role.
The Deflategate ruling follows a busy few days for the NFL. The first trailer for the Will Smith film Concussion was released Monday, which is expected to draw more attention to the long-term effects of head injuries suffered during football when it’s released later this year.
Additionally, Paul Hicks, EVP of communications and public policy at the NFL, joined Glover Park Group as an MD. The league is conducting a search for his replacement.
Here are some reactions that immediately followed the #Deflategate ruling:
Roger Goodell and NFL have huge PR nightmare now judge rules Brady can play. His authority very much in question #deflategate— David Bernknopf (@dbernk) September 3, 2015
Roger Goodell, when you’re ready to hire a PR firm, call me. Probably want to do that sooner than later.— John Sternal (@SternalPR) September 3, 2015
Bye bye Goodell. pic.twitter.com/2Wr0PFFz6y— Frank Guardi (@FrankGuardi) September 3, 2015
I'm no Brady fan, but after months of getting beat by the NFL, he changed strategy and won in the legal and PR courts http://t.co/hWnXeauLCb— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) September 3, 2015
Somewhere, former NFL PR guy Paul Hicks is enjoying his morning coffee with pure relaxation. #FreeBrady— Aaron Gould (@aaronkgould) September 3, 2015
Some brands even took advantage of the ruling on social media.