by Nancy Stiles
Anheuser-Busch has been the official beer of the NFL since 2011, but that didn't stop the company from making its first statement on the league since the Ray Rice scandal came to light. In an official release, A-B says it is "not yet satisfied" with the NFL's handling of the situation.
For those of you who don't follow sports, the NFL has been under fire in recent months over its treatment -- or lack thereof -- of players who have been accused or even charged and convicted of domestic violence. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is facing child-abuse charges and apparently has a history of such issues. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy is already appealing a felony domestic-abuse conviction, and the team isn't sure whether it will suspend him.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice originally was only suspended for two games after a video surfaced of him knocking out his then-fiancee in an elevator and dragging her unconscious body out. After media outcry, he's now facing an indefinite suspension. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald has not been benched at all, despite being in the midst of an investigation into allegations that he assaulted his pregnant fiancee -- including an arrest for domestic felony abuse.
Supporters of the NFL and domestic-violence activists alike have been calling for a change in the way the league handles violent players, and what that attitude says to its female fans. Anheuser-Busch obviously spends a ton of money on advertising and branding with the NFL, so this is a big step. Here's the full statement:
We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.
It's unclear whether that means threatening to pull sponsorship, but surely something like that would light a fire under commissioner Roger Goodell's bum. Though beer isn't really a family-friendly product, it means something that A-B is standing up to the NFL while other advertisers and partners have not.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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