Andy Newman is a second-year Media and Journalism major and writes for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I hate getting stains on my jerseys. I’m a big jersey collector, almost to a fault really. I try to keep them nice and clean but every once in a while, I get a stain.
When I get that stain, I try to wash it out as soon as possible. I don’t want it to ruin the nice clean jersey that I enjoy and try my best to take care of. I think that’s what any sensible person would do, just try and get rid of the stain.
For some reason, the NFL seems to disagree with me. Every NFL player on every NFL team walks out of their locker room and onto the field each game day with a stain on their jersey. Sometimes it’s super hard to see. Sometimes it’s pretty darn easy to see. Other times the stain is so obvious that it’s hard to look away, but football fans generally just miss it or ignore it completely. I can’t miss that stain.
That stain is the NFL ownership group.
The NFL ownership group, the approximately 40 owners and executives control every aspect of the National Football League. They are a stain on the NFL and its reputation, the stain on every NFL jersey. One of its biggest.
According to an article written by sportscasting reporter Scott Jenkins entitled “Robert Kraft and 4 Other Owner Scandals That Shocked the World,” this stain can be a wide range of different injustices. From alleged sexual misconduct as seen in Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Commanders owner Dan Snyder, to allegedly soliciting prostitution in Patriots owner Robert Kraft, to allegedly causing suicide in Rams owner Stan Kroenke and since that article, systemic racism. All are little bits and pieces of this massive stain on the NFL, but that stain never seems to come out.
What are the biggest perpetrators of this stain you ask?
Not to undercut the actions of other owners in the league in any way but at this moment there are two clear answers to that question in my eyes. If you’ve read practically any NFL news lately you know who my first choice is, Dan Snyder of the Washington Commanders. The other, the owners’ hiring practices associated with the Rooney Rule and the treatment of former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores.
For those who have no clue who Dan Snyder is, allow me to set the scene.
Snyder purchased the Washington franchise back in 1999 for $750 million. Since his purchase of the team, Snyder has been involved in a myriad of different scandals and allegations, many of which have come to the forefront of public conversation and debate in the past few years. From his refusal to change the name of the Washington franchise which, at the time had what was widely considered to be a racist name, to allowing portions of his cheap, decrepit stadium to fall apart and injure fans and spew sewage on them, Dan Snyder is no saint. In his defense, he did finally decide to change that name… in an attempt to cover up his biggest contribution to the NFL ownership’s stain.
Said stain centers around allegations against Snyder of sexual harassment and misconduct from a slew of former Washington employees. According to an article entitled “NFL says it will oversee investigation of Commanders’ Snyder” by the Associated Press, these allegations warranted a congressional investigation. According to an article written by ESPN entitled “Sources: Commanders boss Snyder claims ‘dirt’ on NFL owners, Goodell”, Snyder cultivated a workplace of, “…chronic sexual harassment and multiple incidents of misconduct, including some made by former team cheerleaders who accused team executives of creating videos of them partially nude, making disparaging sexual remarks, asking for dates and telling female employees to flirt with suite holders.”
How are we allowing this to happen?
Seriously, a stain is a stain, but NFL fans and other owners and executives have each week turned their cheek to this issue.
How can the NFL and we as NFL fans allow this man, a man who allowed this culture to fester in his franchise be a representative and a decision-maker in the NFL?
Thankfully one NFL owner decided he had enough. According to reports from the Pat McAfee Show, ESPN and NFL.com Oct. 19, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke to the media and made the bold claim that there would be “merit” in forcing Snyder to sell the Commanders.
As a Colts fan, I’m well aware Jim Irsay has had his troubles as well. According to an article written by Mike Wells of ESPN entitled “Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested,” Irsay himself was arrested on preliminary drug possession charges and driving while intoxicated. Irsay has had his problems, but he’s come out and admitted them and done his due diligence in fixing those mistakes apologizing to the community, consenting to random drug testing and working to stay sober.
Irsay’s statements, as a model of a reformed owner who’s done their best to recognize and wash out his stain, help to move the conversation in the right direction for positive change by removing Snyder from the NFL.
Another massive stain on the NFL’s legacy from the ownership group comes from systemically racist practices in hiring processes as claimed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. After he was fired from the Dolphins, for reasons the general public has a hard time comprehending, Flores went on the job hunt. Despite interviewing for multiple positions, Flores said he felt those interviews were a sham used only to check the Rooney Rule box.
Flores believes that multiple NFL owners, specifically former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and top executives as well as Giants owners Steve Tisch and John Mara, only interviewed him to check off a requirement and gave him no real shot at the job.
The requirement that they checked by interviewing Flores is the infamous Rooney Rule. The rule requires NFL franchises to interview at least one minority candidate for any open General Manager or Head Coaching job. On the outside looking in, the rule looks like a step in the right direction, but when this rule is abused and not taken seriously by owners it falls apart. While the NFL has denied Flores’ claims, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying that “…the League believes in diversity, but it has fallen short in the hiring of African American head coaches.”
Goodell also stated that he had no solutions to fixing the Rooney Rule and it needed to be scrapped.
As of now, the league has three African American head coaches.
The rule has clearly not done what it was supposed to do, and Roger Goodell and the NFL can see that too.
Why isn’t it working?
It isn’t working because NFL owners treat it just like Flores claims, as a check mark, not a legitimate interview. Minority candidates are reduced to another useless marked box in the hiring process because NFL owners just don’t care and can do virtually whatever they want. In the end, it is their league.
Another stain on this great league that I love so much.
Whether it be Dan Snyder’s actions, owners’ dealings with the Rooney Rule or some other obscene action done by an NFL owner or executive, there is clearly a problem.
But what can we do as NFL fans and fans of this great game?
Support owners like Jim Irsay who speak out against the problem, fix their mistakes and attack the issue head-on.
Make your voices heard when unjust actions occur. Owners listen to the fans because owners listen to the money, and we fans have it.
Educate yourself on the issues and problems plaguing the ownership group like Snyder and the Rooney Rule abuse.
Finally, recognize that stain on those seemingly clean jerseys and uniforms. My jerseys are far from stain free, trust me, but they sure have been through a lot of bleach and stain remover.