By Ann Killion
San Francisco Chronicle.
For just $59.95 plus shipping and handling, you can buy yourself or the woman in your life a “shimmer” pink Ray Rice T-shirt.
Of course you can. In recent years, the NFL has launched an intense campaign to woo its largest untapped market: women.
Females make up 45 percent of the league’s fans and control most consumer spending. So the NFL trots out endless pink products and recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness in October with pink-trimmed accessories.
But there’s a serious disconnect between the marketing message sent to this desired demographic and the larger message.
The Ray Rice affair underscores how cynical the NFL is when it comes to marketing its product, as opposed to making real strides.
Rice received only a two-game suspension for domestic abuse. He assaulted his then-fiancée, dragging her unconscious out of an elevator.
Rice entered a pre-trial counseling program, avoiding any charges.
His victim, now his wife, asked Commissioner Roger Goodell for leniency, in a meeting attended by both her husband and NFL officials — the type of setup any advocacy group knows puts the victim in a highly compromised position.
The disconnect continues. Yammering broadcaster Stephen A. Smith was suspended by ESPN for inane comments that women shouldn’t provoke attacks.
He received a week, or half as long a suspension as the football player who actually assaulted a woman.
The league continues to hand down longer suspensions to players who use marijuana to self-medicate themselves from the brutal pain their profession demands than to those who attack women.
Early in his career, Goodell seemed to care about abusers in his league. He gave Ben Roethlisberger a six-game suspension (reduced to four) following a sexual-assault allegation, though no criminal charges were filed in that case, either.