Silver’s emphatic decision puts pressure on NFL to do the right thing


Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling apparently told a woman he knows that she should not associate with black people.

The Washington NFL franchise has used a racial slur on everything from a stadium to uniforms to millions of jerseys for four decades.

I would love to see the Washington players meet at the center of the field and peel off their game jerseys in protest, as the Clippers players had the guts to do about Sterling’s offensive comments. And given NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s swift action to ban Sterling from the NBA, now it’s time to repair and remove the racism in the NFL.

It’s time, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to live up the Silver’s Rules.

My colleague Chuck Beeler first raised the parallel issue yesterday morning. He’s right.

Racism is racism. There are no gradations from “OK” to “terrible” and beyond. But a private conversation, however reflective of, and a continuance of, other dastardly behavior in Sterling’s case, at least contains some societal protections.

Using a racial slur on everything you touch — including television listings, team schedules, United Way advertisements and even the conference table placard in front of Washington’s Daniel Snyder at the NFL owners’ meetings — is certainly as bad.

The NFL needs to wake up, step up, fess up and stop pretending that “tradition,” obviates ending an obvious racial wrong. Heck, in some circles a white cloak and pointed hood counts as “tradition” too.

Silver set a high bar. He’s going to hold his owners to it, making sure they end Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers. He blew a major hole in the NBA’s crisis over Sterling and moved his league closer to ending that crisis. We’re not sure the NFL even thinks it’s in a crisis.

What standard do you want to live up to, Mr. Goodell?

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

 

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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