The NFL is becoming an unfortunate victim in a case of “image crisis” with the recent arrest and murder charges brought against New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the NFL has seen a 75 percent increase in player arrests this offseason, as the current count stands at 35 since February 4th, the day after the Super Bowl.
This is the unfortunate image that’s being burned into the minds of anyone who watches the news, listens to the radio or surfs the internet, because the media in general chooses to focus their coverage on these kinds of stories.
As Joseph Haas described it so well, it’s up to the media to begin focusing their news coverage away from the negative, and more on the positive:
Maybe it does, maybe the NFL will always be perceived by some fans as a violent league of players playing a violent game. I don’t subscribe to that belief, but I see an opportunity for the NFL to attack this negative image of the league head on! There are hundreds of players performing charitable acts daily, representing the league the right way. Why not feature these athletes and their acts of kindness and generosity as much as possible. For every negative headline, why not saturate the news with players at functions and the causes they promote?
It may be boring news, but inundate fans with it anyway, especially during the off-season when the instances of player-arrests seem to increase exponentially. I say make it just as easy for fans like myself to find out what charitable foundation a player represents, as it is to find an athlete’s mug shots online.
Take the Bengals for example. The only time they’ve been in the media recently was due to the arrest of Adam Jones, and the outcry of “hypocrisy” that he and the NFL were engaging in for letting him speak at the NFL Rookie Symposium.
But was that same level of national attention paid to the story of Andrew Whitworth paying the funeral expenses of Jaleel Gipson, a 16-year-old boy who died during a spring football practice incident? Unfortunately, it was not.
That’s where the biggest problem lies. If you’ve paid attention to Stripe Hype, and most online blogs in general, a lot more attention is paid to those kinds of stories. It’s up to the bigwigs at ESPN, FOX, NBC and the other major sports outlets to do the same.