Major NFL Sponsor Says League Isn't Responsible For Scandals

Some of the biggest NFL sponsors are gradually breaking their silence on issues like domestic violence and child abuse after high-profile cases of two football stars grabbed headlines over the past few weeks.

Indra Nooyi

Some of the biggest sponsors of the National Football League are gradually breaking their silence on issues like domestic violence and child abuse after high-profile cases of two football stars grabbed headlines over the past few weeks.

After Anheuser-Busch released a company statement expressing discontent with the way the NFL’s governing body has handled the incidents, PepsiCo’s Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi reiterated the same point this week.

However, she failed miserably in making the point when she implied the NFL and its Commissioner Roger Goodell should not be blamed in the entire matter.

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Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s controversial TMZ video and later Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson's shocking child abuse confession set off a scorching round of criticism for the way the league's executives are handling these issues.

Public outrage intensified last week after it was revealed that the NFL authorities had already received a copy of the elevator tape in April.

Prominent sports personalities like Keith Olbermann and several women’s rights organizations called for Goodell’s – and other NFL executives’ – resignation.

However, PepsiCo’s CEO isn’t one of them.

Nooyi – who is the head of a major American company and ranked among the most powerful women in the world – thinks the NFL's governing body is not really responsible for the mess it is engulfed in.

She issued a statement emailed to USA TODAY. While she condemned players’ involved in the domestic and child abuse scandals, she called on Goodell to use these controversies as an opportunity for leadership.

"When it comes to child abuse and domestic violence, there is no middle ground. The behaviors are disgusting, absolutely unacceptable and completely fly in the face of the values we at PepsiCo believe in and cherish,” Nooyi said, before stressing on PepsiCo's long-standing partnership with the NFL.

“I know Roger Goodell. We have worked together for many years. I know him to be a man of integrity, and I am confident that he will do the right thing for the league in light of the serious issues it is facing.”

"The reality for Commissioner Goodell and the NFL is that they now have an opportunity to effect positive change with the situation presented to them. I urge them to seize this moment. How they handle these cases going forward can help shape how we, as a nation, as a society, and as individuals treat domestic violence and child abuse."

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Just as a reminder, Nooyi made headlines in July after she stated in an interview that even the most powerful women in the world “can't have it all.”

She was widely praised for her understanding of women’s issues then. However, she couldn’t really make that much of an impact with her words this time around.

As to why Nooyi wasn’t able to criticize Goodell’s and the NFL’s incompetence almost entirely, there is but one logical explanation – her company’s monetary association with the NFL.

According to guesstimates, PepsiCo pays around – or maybe even more than – $100 million a year for its official sponsorship with what is the most lucrative sports league in the world.

And this is what the company says of its alliance with the NFL on its official website:

“PepsiCo’s longtime association with the NFL connects our brands with fans, players to enhance excitement and drive business for PepsiCo and its customers.”

The facts speak a lot more than Nooyi’s words. She may have been trying to find a middle ground, but she failed to do so by letting the executives completely off the hook.

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