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If The NFL Were Any Other Company, Every Customer Would Have Given Up On It Long Ago

Let’s play make-believe. A little choose your own adventure story, if you will. Picture in your mind a company whose services or products you’ve been using and enjoying for years, maybe since you were a kid. Maybe your dad even introduced you to this company, as his dad did before. You look forward to passing this loyalty down to your own children. This company is a tradition, a staple of American life, like Band-Aids, or Hershey’s Kisses, or It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas.

Meanwhile, in the last several years, some unsavory information about the company has come out; despite wide profit margins, it doesn’t give its employees very good health benefits, and it doesn’t take very good care of ex-employees. You’re not thrilled about this, but its products are better than ever, and for the most part, it offers them to the public at pretty reasonable prices. You stay loyal.

But in the last two years or so, things have gotten particularly ugly. At least a few of the company’s ex-employees have committed suicide, almost surely on account of life-altering injuries they suffered while working there. The company has promised to make its working conditions safer, and to care more for its retirees, but you know this is basically lip service.

On top of that, in the last few weeks alone, one of the company’s employees has committed a murder-suicide, and another has killed a coworker while driving drunk. This last part becomes even more alarming when you learn that in the past year, over ten employees have been arrested for driving drunk, adding to several arrests stemming from physical and sexual assault, weapons possession and other serious offenses.

Here’s where you get to make a choice: Do you stay loyal to this company, do you help them maintain business as usual, or do you stand up and say: “Wait a second, maybe I shouldn’t be so doggedly loyal to a firm whose employees have this many issues?” Cheerios is a great cereal, but if the scenario I laid out above described General Mills, I think you’d find something else to crunch on in the morning.

Of course, though, that scenario describes the National Football League, not a beloved breakfast food manufacturer. We have allowed the NFL ownership over our fall Sundays, over Thanksgiving – and through the draft, free agency, minicamps and training camp, pretty much the whole rest of the year, too. We even let the fake NFL run our lives. We’ve stayed so loyal, in fact, that monetarily, the league is more successful than ever.

But even as it rakes in money, it’s charging more and more outrageous sums for tickets; the technology exists for us to choose which games we watch on TV, but it still won’t let most of us do that (unless we have DirecTV); it claims it’s making conditions safer for players while it attempts to add games to the schedule; and generally insulting fans’ collective intelligence. When do we say “enough is enough”? When do we stop going to these games? When do we stop tuning in? When do we say “We can’t support a company whose ex-employees regularly suffer from dementia and other brain-degenerative diseases on account of their working conditions?”

If the ex-employees of any other company so routinely fell victim to all sorts of neurological problems, there would be protesters outside that company’s offices every day, demanding accountability. Instead, every Sunday, outside every NFL stadium, hundreds of people clamor to pay ungodly sums to scalpers so they can get in to see the mayhem. How much more do we all need to see before we decide it’s time for a new breakfast?


As you’re no doubt aware, Brandon recently published the most excellent You Gotta Have Balls, and he’s giving away some signed copies! They’ve got copies signed by Phil Simms and Mark Bavaro, copies signed by Eli and Archie Manning, and copies signed by Lou Holtz and Mark Bavaro. All you have to do for a chance to win yours is subscribe to Brandon’s blog here. Good luck!

Brandon Steiner is the founder & CEO of Steiner Sports Marketing & Memorabilia. He is also an author and inspirational speaker. Follow him by visiting his blog, Facebook, or Twitter page.

  • Michael

    Wait, complaining about the treatment of retirees in a company that has a minimum salary of $400k? With pensions? I would wonder why so much money needed to be spent – they must really attract the best of the best. I’d venture to guess if you looked at any other major corporation in depth there are some Microsoft employees with DUIs and some CNN employees that committed domestic violence. In fact, I’d be shocked if there isn’t at least one person on the Abrams Media Network with a DUI.

  • Electric Blacklight

    People should be treated well regardless of salary. Does that mean the average person should be treated like crap? If someone has no job and no income or struggling to make it $35K a year seems like $400k and that perhaps we shouldn’t be complaining how we are treated.

    I don’t care how much someone is making. Everyone should be treated as person.

  • JMan

    Luxury in every facet imaginable with a salary to match as
    well as some of the best healthcare in the world. Literally a doctor and
    his cohorts walking side-by-side to you through your daily life. Maybe
    they could take some of those multimillion dollar contracts and take some steps
    to ensure their own well-being. God forbid we take some responsibility for
    ourselves these days.

  • alfred

    Yes, the NFL could treat its employees better, but millions of people still dream of playing in the NFL. Also, if you suggest the NFL is responsible for the bad decisions of its employees, is Hollywood responsible for actors’ bad decisions? Are record labels responsible for musicians’ bad decisions?

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