Just as the calls for his resignation reached a fever pitch, Roger Goodell pulled off a fumble recovery with his news conference today (Although I’d throw a flag for the late start!). While the NFL, and Goodell, are far from being out of the woods, today marked an important first step in reputation recovery.
What did the NFL (finally) get right?
- Goodell Manned Up – he took responsibility for bad processes, bad decisions and bad outcomes. And promised to do better. Never underestimate the value of an apology.
- Prescriptive and immediate actions were unveiled – education and training for all personnel will begin this month.
- NFL shed the block and pivoted to how the NFL can be a force for good – supporting credible organizations to tackle the larger societal problem of domestic violence. They didn’t do it as well as NFL sponsor (and MWW client) Verizon – which made a similar call to action before the NFL did, and has been supporting domestic violence for years.
- Brought his potential adversary under the tent – the NFLPA by stating that they both agree that “There is no room for violence in the NFL” while outlining the need for change to the personal conduct policies – something which requires the support of the NFLPA. If player reaction to Goodell’s speech is any indication, he is going to need the NFLPA’s help.
- Established a timeline – of sweeping policy change before the Super Bowl.
For now, Goodell gets to keep the ball, and the NFL continues its attempts to drive forward. But they are far from the Red Zone. Once he was forced to go off script, Goodell struggled with a number of questions – including the revelation that a FOIA request for records shows no evidence that the NFL ever requested the Ray Rice video tape. With his credibility already in question, millions of fans will be watching to see if the NFL can deliver on this plan with consistency, transparency and accountability.
Football is a game of inches. And that is how the NFL can restore its reputation – one hard fought inch at a time.