Collectively, twitter laughed when radio host Danny Kanell used the phrase “War on Football” last December. War? They mocked? The most popular sport in the country, the one that dominates TV ratings and is a monster when it comes to fantasy sports and gambling, is under attack! Ha, they scoffed.
Kanell was onto something.
In the six months since Kanell’s comment, the NFL has made two significant hires from a public relations standpoint: Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton Press Secretary, and this week Natalie Ravitz, who worked for Rupert Murdoch in communications for the last 3+ years (far right in the photo above).
Smart moves by the NFL. These hires serve as 1) Protection for Roger Goodell, who will come under fire once again as Tom Brady ramps up his defense for what could be a trip to the Supreme Court (It probably won’t go that far, but Brady has shoved all his chips in the middle. He’s pot committed to defending himself in deflategate) and 2) the NFL, which is increasingly taking fire for its handling of concussions, and appealing to housewives in middle America who may be pulling their kids off the dangerous football field as they see players surprisingly retiring at an early age (for a variety of reasons, but #1 seems to be safety).
You can laugh all you want at the War on Football, but it’s very real. Not in a literal sense, of course. But in what previous era have the likes of Mike Ditka, LeBron James and others come out and said they wouldn’t let their kids play football? In what era were former and current elite athletes ever even asked that question?