|August 6, 2008|
|PR Hypocrisy: The NFL Gives Etiquette Warning to Fans|
|By Greg Hazley|
|The National Football League is cracking down on unruly, drunken, abusive and illegal behavior. It’s a good PR move and about time, you might say, for a league whose players frequent the police blotter and push the limits of public tolerance toward prima donna star athletes. From dog fighting to drunken sexual assault cruises, the NFL has pretty much cornered the market on athlete misbehavior (and wrist-slap punishment) in recent years.|
But the league isn’t implementing a new code of conduct for its players – it’s after you, the fans, with new guidelines for behavior expected of the millions who'll attend an NFL game this year.
Getting a lesson in manners from the NFL doesn’t just smack of hypocrisy, it’s comical. Among the bans in a new policy outlined this week and rubber-stamped by the 32 sheep-like franchises: “behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal,” “drunkenness and signs of alcohol impairment that result in irresponsible behavior,” and “foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.”
I know some folks that fit those descriptions and they all go to work with pads on and numbers on their backs.
Any fan in violation of these new rules will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.
So, if you’re a misbehaving player in the NFL, you just have to sit out a few games. If you’re a fan – paying about $100-a-seat with some even shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a license just to buy that seat – you could be gone for good. That threat applies even if you give your tickets to a friend or sell them to another party that misbehaves in your seat. That kind of responsibility would be like punishing an entire league for the conduct of one of its players, no?
The NFL should clean up its conduct on and off the field before it takes aim at the stands.
Just this last week, Carolina Panthers star wide receiver Steve Smith punched a teammate in the face during practice. He’s out for two games. Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall was disciplined this week for a March arrest on domestic violence charges, which complements his September trial for a drunken driving arrest. Marshall’s been arrested three times in the last year. His suspension: three games. Is that one game for each offense?
The Cincinnati Bengals had 10 players arrested in a 14-month span from April 2006 and June 2007. It was less than a year ago that one of the league’s biggest stars, Michael Vick, was sent off to prison for his role in a dogfighting operation. And the Dallas Cowboys are pumped up about their new acquisition, Adam “Pacman” Jones, who’s made a rap sheet six times since 2000. The list goes on.
Las Vegas gambling sites now offer odds to bet on NFL arrests. At 2/3 odds, Vegas handicappers seem to think the next bust is a lock for the NFL over the NBA (2-1) or Major League Baseball (5-1). Hopping a flight to Vegas and laying down a bet might be a good way to win the $20,000-per-seat I'll need to buy the rights to buy Giants tickets in their shiny new stadium.
Then again, maybe Vegas isn't such a great idea. It sure wasn't for Pacman.
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