NFL Image Takes a Tackle

One of the hot topics recently hitting the media today has been the news surrounding Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens. This story has created turmoil and conflict when regarding the NFL’s image but more specifically Roger Goodell’s image. Back when the news first broke about Rice supposedly hitting his now wife, the NFL responded with little punishment due to the fact that there was no proof.

Recently, TMZ has released video footage of the incident, which resulted in Rice’s suspension. The biggest question that has came to surface was whether or not the NFL knew about the video before it was released to the public. Goodell and Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, responded saying that they had no prior knowledge of this video.

Video contains violence, discretion advised (

Now the Associated Press has released a statement and a voicemail that proves the video was sent to the NFL back in April. So what does this mean for the NFL and the NFL commissioner? The image of Roger Goodell is quickly declining, due to his unresponsiveness to the issue.

In an organization as large as the NFL, the commissioner works as a sort of mouthpiece for the entire entity. He doesn’t just speak for himself; he also speaks as the NFL. This personification of the entire organization makes the choices of one man represent the image at large. This is why Goodell’s actions are so detrimental to the NFL’s entire brand image.

This topic perfectly blends together with Marshall McLuhan’s theory of Media Ecology. According to Griffin (2011) this surrounds the idea that technology not only influences our society as a whole, but that also how media and communication practices shape and affect human perceptions and understanding of human affairs. The video of Ray Rice that went viral into our social media world, shaped our insight and intuition of how the NFL and Roger Goodell handle its organization, and certainly affects out external interpretation of the NFL’s image.

-Hannah Zeskind, Connor Gold, Margaret Cafasso, Kierstin Geary, and Olivia Sadler

36 thoughts on “NFL Image Takes a Tackle

  1. I agree with this blog. Social media and the internet heavily influence our perceptions not only just of people, but of organizations. The NFL and Roger Goodell have now harmed their brand. The media grabbing hold of this information will continue to affect their brand and share this negative news around the world.

  2. The NFL now has a host of others joining Ray Rice. Quite sad. The application of McLuhan can work well in this case but just be sure that you’re clear about McLuhan’s focus. HIs focus is NOT on content. It is on technology. How does the HARDWARE impact society and self somewhat independent of the content. What the Ray Rice case illustrated (pun intended) is that we have become a society of image not words. There are similar and even worse cases of domestic abuse everyday in this country and no has called for the kind of ostracizing that has been called for in response to Ray Rice. Floyd Mayweather fought recently without much protest and picked up a 70 million dollar paycheck for one fight. But alas, no video to show over and over of his numerous domestic violence episodes. McLuhan was, and all of us should be interested in how the growth in visual technology is shaping what constitutes evidence and what is the role of reason and language in such a visual era. Are we over valuing the visual? Is a Ray Rice video or even a more mundane fashion faux pas given more weight than it should be given. It will be interesting to see how the Danny Ferry case plays out. He is accused of racist comments but the comments are only audio and in emails. He is arguing the words were not his but that rather he was quoting someone else. Question: Could you do IMC/PR for the NFL? For Ray Rice, for Floyd Mayweather, for Danny Ferry, the Atlanta Hawks? What are your boundaries and values?

    • Thank you for your comment. We really like your points on how visual our culture is becoming. To answer your question we think it would be an ethically challenging choice. I think we would have to evaluate our ability to separate the organization we work for as whole and the “bad seeds” within it.

  3. It is crazy how the NFL had this video in custody and did not do anything about the situation. The videos release provided a negative image to the NFL and is sure to change the minds of many people in America about its true values.

  4. I agree that media has a powerful prescence when it comes to the way society views news events. How are we suppose to believe something unless we see the evidence? That’s the thought process the NFL took advantage of. So now that videos and phone convesations that prove domestic violence are coming to the surface, the NFL is sweating to cover the lie. The whole situation has made them look like any player can get away with a serious assault crime as long as the evidence doesn’t come to light. Now I know the NFL is not PRO domestic violence, however the whole situation has made them look naive. Shouldn’t they know better that in a world consumed by media and celebrities, especially big time atheletes, that secrets don’t ever stay hidden? At least three reputations have been altered for the worse because of this: the NFL’s brand and the personal “brands” Ray Rice and his now wife had for themselves.

  5. As a fan of the NFL, I would love nothing more than to see Goodell get fired, and I believe this is the incident that should drive the final nail into the coffin. The fact that he knew of the incident before the season started and did not act upon it should be enough indication to fire him. I feel as if the NFL swept this incident under the rug due to the talent Ray Rice has on the field. With Rice gone, Ravens ticket sales could go down, which ultimately means a lose of profit for the NFL. I still feel that Goodell should get fired not only for the NFL’s sake, but for the sake of the NFL community.

  6. You have brought up many great points in this story, especially the statement: ” technology not only influences our society as a whole, but that also how media and communication practices shape and affect human perceptions and understanding of human affairs”. As disappointing as it is that it took a video for the NFL to realize how serious it is for a man to hit a woman, that is today’s society. Although this took entirely too long for the NFL to enforce any kind of punishment on their players, I am happy to see things changing. Just yesterday I was at the Panthers vs. Lions game and noticed that Greg Hardy was “deactivated”. This was the right move for Rivera and I am glad he made this call for his team. I hope the NFL learn from their mistakes and move forward in a positive way.

  7. I am shocked by Roger Goodell’s actions, or lack there of, dealing with Ray Rice. Considering Goodell represents NFL as a whole, you would think he would make better decisions and consider all outcomes before attempting to lie and hide something so big. After receiving the video, he should have immediately made an apologetic public announcement, and given Rice a suitable punishment. If he had handled the situation more effectively, he could have successfully and honestly avoided all of the issues he now faces.

  8. I completely agree with the idea that a video in the media can extremely change how we view a certain organization or intuition. As stated in this post, Ray Rice is a prime example of how a video going viral can change the severity of a situation. This video not only changed Ray Rice’s personal life but also NFL as a brand. NFL is associated with these football players, therefore when they mess up so does the brand as a whole. Just after watching this video people begin to question the NFL as to whether they watched this footage before it was leaked. This is a big accusation and can cause a lot of controversy for the NFL as a brand. This not only questions the ethics of Ray Rice but also the NFL’s ethical viewpoints. This post brought to light the consequences of technology and how apparent they are in our society. This proves the media and technology is a powerful thing and when used negatively it can seriously affect a brand.

    Caitlin Rodermund
    IMC 1

  9. I believe that Roger Goodell should be fired for his actions of the past few months. If any player would have lied to him, he would get rid of them just like he got rid of Ray Rice. He should take responsibility and step down from commissioner or ultimately get fired.

  10. I think that it is quite disgusting that the NFL knew of this incident and failed to take proper measures and enforce punishment. Just because the video is out to the public, now is the time to properly punish the NFL player? It makes it seem that the NFL only cares about their players and they would hide anything that could negatively impact the NFL as a whole. I understand that the NFL doesn’t want any negative feedback but that doesn’t mean they can hide a vicious domestic abuse attack on a woman. It is just plain wrong.

  11. I completely believe that this issue is 100% on both Ray Rice’s shoulders and the NFL’s. With the knowledge of the video, the voice mail provided the evidence that the NFL knew about the scandal and chose not to take action until the video was leaked. I also don’t agree with Ray Rice’s wife standing by his side through this and especially while he makes a public announcement, apologizing for the matter. I think overall this is a terrible incident and if he was doing things like this to his then fiance (now wife) in the public eye, then there’s no telling what he is doing behind closed doors. Ray Rice should go to jail and the NFL needs to be punished for having knowledge about the situation.

  12. Since it’s all over social media, I had briefly heard about this issue. However, I had not seen the video nor did I know that the NFL knew about this video before it was released to the media. It’s shocking that an organization this big would risk so much by ignoring such a large problem. Then again, because the NFL is a huge brand, this is isn’t going to change many people’s opinion about the NFL. Everyone will be upset with Rice. Everyone will continue watching and supporting the NFL like its been done before.

  13. Since it’s all over social media, I had briefly heard about this issue. However, I had not seen the video nor did I know that the NFL knew about this video before it was released to the media. It’s shocking that an organization this big would risk so much by ignoring such a large problem. Then again, because the NFL is a huge brand, this is isn’t going to change many people’s opinion about the NFL. Everyone will be upset with Rice. Everyone will continue watching and supporting the NFL like its been done before. $

  14. I think it was a bit insane to think when the incident originally occurred, Ray Rice only received a two-game suspension. Now that the video has been viewed by the public, he is kicked off the team. Whether or not Goodell had seen the video or not, he has hurt his brand name by how he originally reacted to the situation. Now he has portrayed the NFL as a brand that is careless regarding the actions of its players and the way they conduct themselves. I believe any indication of domestic violence should have been taken very seriously. The fact that this was brushed under the rug until it was leaked to the public is very suspicious, and is going to turn many fans against the NFL. People do not realize it, but the NFL is a brand that is supported by fans that believe they are not only supporters, but also that they are a part of the brand itself. No one wants to stand behind a brand name that has these types of scandals and crimes going on.

  15. It’s amazing to see what some people will allow to slip through the cracks. I am a huge NFL fan (go pats!) but just knowing that the commissioner and head coach of the Ravens knew about this incident before now, makes me ashamed of the whole organization. It just shows how far people will go to be successful. Celebrities, athletes, and just people in the spotlight in general should not be held to a lower standard just so they can continue going on with their career. Who knows how long this would have stayed under wraps if the video were not to have come out. If this were an average man and his wife, there would have been serious consequences from the beginning, but since it was a professional football player, it was kept a secret as long as possible. The media can help and hurt someone in a matter of seconds. There are no secrets if the internet gets ahold of certain information. Media gives us all the information we can get so we immediately believe what we are being told, given the source.

  16. I believe that a lot of information is withheld from the public eye before it is deemed appropriate to release. That being said, it is not surprising that a gossip column such as TMZ, would be willing to release footage without consideration of the unintended consequences. There are loop-holes within every corporation, I believe it is a matter of amorality. Because large corporations such as the NFL are concerned about production, they are willing to sweep major issues such as the “Ray Rice incident” beneath the table. Will ethics ever be applied to all aspects of business? This has not been the first act of injustice viewed in our society, and it will not be the last. My desire is that producers incorporate the pathos aspect to their business more than focusing on the logos and ethos of it. Surely their credibility and profit will benefit more from honesty and virtue, rather than deceit and omitting the truth.

  17. I agree that the NFL is taking a hit due to the actions of Goodell. When you are the face and spokesperson for a major organization every decision you make or press release you make is going to be scrutinized by society. In a way it seems as if Goodell was trying to let this issue fly under the radar to not bring a great deal of public scrutiny on the NFL and its affiliates, but in doing so actually made the situation worse. If he had the organizations best interests in mind he would have come clean about the video and ended Rices career showing people that the NFL is a great organization.

  18. This post could not have incorporated the theory of Media Ecology any better, as well as making use of and relating a current social issue. The article epitomizes the theory especially for someone who is unfamiliar with Media Ecology. I like that the post incorporates the communication of the organization as a whole as well as the communication of the commissioner. Great post.

  19. It seems that the NFL’s season is getting off to a rocky start, this isn’t the only incident in recent months to surface. The question is what does the NFL stand for and how will the NFL respond to the topic of domestic violence? With this incident they are being given a platform…will they speak out and demand a change or will they sweep it under the rug, because the topic is too taboo?

  20. Social media, and internet media alike, has produced a new era of sports athletes. They are now not only judged for their roles on the field (or court), but what they do in their personal lives as well. Athletes need to recognize that literally all eyes are on them and they need to act accordingly. Roger Goodell is no exception. As the spokesperson for the entire organization, he needs to step up and take control of the situation.

  21. I really like that you talked about how Goodell doesn’t just represent himself or the NFL but the NFL as a brand and that the decisions he’s making by not responding are reflecting poorly on the brand.

  22. I thought that the reference to Griffin’s text concerning media ecology, “surrounds the idea that technology not only influences our society as a whole, but that also how media and communication practices shape and affect human perceptions and understanding of human affairs” was a great reference for the article and topic of how the video of Ray Rice’s domestic violence really shaped how audiences are seeing the NFL and Roger Goodell presently. The video also brought forth the topic of domestic violence and sports. If the NFL knew of Ray Rice’s abuse and had seen the video before why was he only punished after another website had published the video to the public? If the NFL was withholding this information because keeping a player is more important than reporting domestic violence, what is this telling victims of domestic violence in the real world? That domestic violence is acceptable if the spouse is a good football player? I really like that this article was able to bring forth multiple topics from public image, brand image, to domestic violence.

  23. This was a lose-lose situation on all fronts for Goodell. He must have known that the video would eventually come to light and it would all hit the fan. Divulging that that he saw the video and possibly enacting stricter punishments on Rice earlier would have served to better protect himself, but it still would have caused a public image fiasco for the league. Maybe postponing it was simply to give them time to drum up a way to spin/ deal with the story. Either way, sad story. Never fun to hear about, let alone see such violent domestic conflict. The silver line does exist in that people are, at least for the time being, having real conversations about domestic violence issues on a public stage.

  24. I agree with the theory that technology, the internet specifically, influences how we perceive and understand the affairs and society around us. The Ray Rice incident is just one great example of how a viral video can influence our perception of a brand such as the NFL. I believe this theory though can also work to change our society in a positive light. When the ice bucket challenge videos began going viral, this changed our perception and understanding of ASL and the ASL organization as a brand. We became more perceptive of the organization and the brand because of technology.

  25. Although Goodell is not the NFL in it’s entirety, I like how you pointed out that because of his position he works and serves as the “mouthpiece” of the NFL. Therefore, due to his actions, or lack there of while dealing with Ray Rice, the NFL as a brand is now greatly suffering. Domestic violence is a serious offense, and the fact that Goodell was aware of the issue and tried to let it go under the radar has called into question the judgment and intentions of Goodell, and thus the NFL as a whole.

  26. I agree with this blog. The media takes one topic and completely blows it up. The whole Ray Rice situation was a perfect example of this because they have been talking about it for over a week now and won’t stop. The video of Ray Rice hitting his girlfriend was completely uncalled for an inappropriate and thats why the media was able to take this topic of domestic violence and blow it up because people like controversial topics.

  27. Rodger Goodell has without a doubt tarnished not only his reputation, but the reputation of the NFL. When someone within an organization does something like this, they make the entire organization look as if they allow this kind of behavior all of the time. With social media having as much of an impact as it does on the public, it is very easy to change people’s viewpoint about a certain person or organization

  28. This was a great blog and brought up many good points to consider. I agree that media influences how society see’s something. In this case, Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, and the NFL. Because the NFL has a huge impact on Americans, the whole organization has certain standards to live up to. Ray Rice, once a role model to many, should represent himself much better. Domestic violence is very prevalent in our country and people may think it is more acceptable if they see their role model do so. Also, Roger Goodell acted as if the issue was not important by not handling it in a timely matter, as well as not punishing Rice effectively. Although not all would think the same, many of us question not only the individuals but the NFL brand as a whole. It brings up the questions such as, how much information has been withheld from us, how many players have gotten off easy, and how much can players get away with?

  29. As football season is kicking off, the leak of Ray Rice’s assault tape could not have come at a worse time. Because Rice was a member of the Baltimore Ravens, he in turn represented the NFL brand. Players are a direct reflection of the teams they play for and the organization that manages the league and enforces rules and regulations. The issue of domestic violence is obviously prevalent in this case, but the real concern is more ambiguous. The incident that was caught on tape happened in April, yet the NFL does not reprimand Rice until five months later because the Ravens coach “regrettably neglected to inform authorities”. What does this say about the NFL brand? That the action of two individuals can tarnish the name of a team, and the credibility of an organization.

  30. The influence of a certain brand that has on the society is crazy to think about. After not knowing much on this topic and then reading this article, it’s established more that the NFL did know about this situation back in April. I’ve heard pieces on it and wouldn’t believe that NFL would allow him to continue on knowing what happened. This is and can potentially harm the brand of NFL once more evidence comes to surface.

  31. Like many of the other comments, I also really liked the fact that you talked about how Goodell represents the NFL brand; the actions of one reflects the whole industry. While Goodell should have never set aside the moral issue of domestic violence when determining Ray Rice’s punishment, it was a selfish act to lie about not seeing the video just to keep one of his good player’s on the field. As a Ravens fan myself, I would go as far as to say that this case is a poor reflection on the entire fan base. Walking into work after the video went viral I was told, “Did you see one of your guys hit his wife?” This article does a good job of shedding light on Goodell representing much more than just himself.

  32. I agree that they have tarnished their image. Goodell is a part of the larger brand of the NFL and therefor his actions will directly impact the image of the NFL itself. The issue will have an even larger effect as the controversy of whether or not anybody within the system knew about the video before it was released unfolds. Not only is a player at fault now, but the system itself is losing trust as it tries to maintain its pure image.

  33. I agree with the blog that media does shape our images and attitudes. There are many times that a person’s image is ruined because of what the media releases and creates a controversy over. Most media is in some way biased and will direct their coverage to their beliefs. Whether the NFL and the commissioner knew about this issue before or if this is really is new information to them may never be truthfully known. However, the NFL now must take action to try and repair their image because of the media storm that was created around this story.

  34. Thank you IMC 1 Students for your comments. A majority of you seemed to have negative feelings towards the NFL’s action even though you are fans. Is there a line that could be crossed were you would be unable to support the NFL?

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