Andy Newman is a second-year media and journalism student and writes for the Daily News. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I hate having stains on my shirts. I am a big collector of jerseys, almost wrongly. I try to keep them nice and clean, but every once in a while I get a stain.
When I have this stain, I try to wash it off as soon as possible. I don’t want this ruining the nice clean jersey that I enjoy and do my best to take care of. I think that’s what any sane person would do, just try to 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 into the field every game day with a stain on their jersey. Sometimes it’s super hard to see. Sometimes it’s damn easy to see. Other times the spot is so obvious it’s hard to look away, but football fans usually miss it or ignore it altogether. I can’t miss this spot.
This spot is the NFL’s property group.
The NFL’s ownership group, the approximately 40 owners and managers control all aspects of the National Football League. They are a stain on the NFL and its reputation, the stain on every NFL jersey. One of his greatest.
According to an article written by sportswriter Scott Jenkins titled “Robert Kraft and 4 Other Landlord Scandals That Shocked the World,” that 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 alleged solicitation of prostitution from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, to alleged suicide in Rams owner Stan Kroenke and since this article, systemic racism. All are small pieces of this massive stain on the NFL, but this stain never seems to come out.
Who are the biggest authors of this stain, you ask?
By no means to undermine the actions of other league owners, but right now there are two clear answers to that question in my eyes. If you’ve read pretty much any NFL news lately, you know who my top pick is, Dan Snyder of the Washington Commanders. The other, landlord hiring practices associated with the Rooney Rule and the treatment of former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
For those who have no idea who Dan Snyder is, let me set the scene.
Snyder bought the Washington franchise in 1999 for $750 million. Since his purchase of the team, Snyder has been embroiled in a myriad of different scandals and allegations, many of which have been at the forefront of public conversation and debate over the past few years. From his refusal to change the name of the Washington franchise, which at the time bore what was widely seen as a racist name, to letting parts of his cheap and decrepit stadium crumble and hurt fans and spit sewage on them, Dan Snyder is no saint. In his defense, he ultimately decided to change that name… in an attempt to conceal his greatest contribution to the stain of NFL ownership.
This stain centers on allegations against Snyder of sexual harassment and misconduct by a large number of former Washington employees. According to an article titled “NFL Says It Will Oversee Commanders’ Snyder Investigation” by The Associated Press, the allegations warranted a congressional investigation. According to an article written by ESPN titled “Sources: Commanders Boss Snyder Claims ‘Dirt’ on NFL Owners Goodell,” Snyder cultivated a workplace of “…chronic sexual harassment and multiple incidents of abuse.” misconduct, including some by former team cheerleaders who accused team executives of creating partially nude videos of themselves, making derogatory sexual remarks, asking for dates you and tell the employees to flirt with the suite owners.
How do we allow this to happen?
Seriously, a stain is a stain, but NFL fans and other owners and executives alike have turned their heads to this problem every week.
How can the NFL and us, as NFL fans, allow this man, a man who allowed this culture to fester in its franchise, to be a representative and a decision maker in the NFL?
It is unfair.
Luckily, one NFL owner decided enough was enough. According to reports from The Pat McAfee Show, ESPN and NFL.com on Oct. 19, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay spoke to the media and boldly claimed there would be “merit” in forcing Snyder to sell the Commanders.
As a Colts fan, I’m well aware that Jim Irsay had his issues as well. According to an article written by ESPN’s Mike Wells titled “Colts Owner Jim Irsay Arrested”, Irsay himself was arrested for drug possession and drunk driving. Irsay had his issues, but he came out and admitted them and did his due diligence in correcting those mistakes by 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 did his best to recognize and wash away his stain, help move the conversation in the right direction for positive change in removing Snyder from the NFL.
Another massive blemish on the ownership group’s NFL legacy comes from consistently racist practices in hiring processes, as claimed by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. After being fired from the Dolphins, for reasons the general public struggles to understand, Flores set out to find a job. Despite interviewing for multiple positions, Flores said he felt the interviews were a sham used only to tick the Rooney rule box.
Flores believes that several NFL owners, particularly former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and top executives as well as Giants owners Steve Tisch and John Mara, only interviewed him to verify a requirement and only gave him no real chance of succeeding.
The requirement they verified 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 position. From the outside, 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 denied Flores’ claims, commissioner Roger Goodell said that “…the League believes in diversity, but it has failed to hire African-American head coaches.”
Goodell also said he had no solution to fix the Rooney rule and that it should be removed.
Currently, the league has three African American head coaches.
The rule clearly didn’t do what it was supposed to, and Roger Goodell and the NFL can see that too.
Why it does not work ?
It doesn’t work because the NFL owners treat it like Flores claims, like a check mark, not like a legitimate interview. Minority applicants are reduced to another box marked useless in the hiring process because NFL owners don’t care and can do just about anything they want. Ultimately, it’s their league.
Another stain on this great championship that I love so much.
Whether it’s Dan Snyder’s actions, the owners’ dealings with the Rooney Rule, or any other lewd actions 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, correct their mistakes, and attack the problem head-on.
Make your voice heard when unjust actions happen. Owners listen to fans because owners listen to money, and we the fans have it.
Learn about the issues and problems plaguing the ownership group like Snyder and the abuse of the Rooney Rule.
Finally, recognize that stain on those seemingly clean jerseys and uniforms. My swimsuits are far from stain free, trust me, but they have definitely been through a lot of bleach and stain remover.