Last night’s contest between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers, in that team’s brand new stadium, was hijacked by the zebras. More penalties than plays, it sometimes seemed. And the ratings were off a little but still good enough to beat the Miss America contest. But if a ratings slide were the worst news possible for the NFL, then the league would happily take that.
Following the week in which the Ray Rice video became public and another star (Adrian Peterson) was charged with endangering a child through excessive discipline, the NFL finds itself in Washington’s crosshairs. As Mike Allen of Politico Playbook reports, the league:
… plans a variety of steps to try to tamp down rising criticism from Capitol Hill. The league soon will begin announcing the hiring of outside advisers and counselors on domestic violence, similar to the talent surge on player health-and-safety issues, including concussions. The NFL also plans to beef up its in-house staff for compliance and training, and will add domestic-violence awareness to its education programs at the high school and college levels. An NFL official tells Playbook the moves are part of "doing everything we can to earn the trust of our fans and the community, on and off the field."
The league has been interviewing for a new head of its Washington office, and one leading candidate is Cynthia Hogan, a former counsel to Vice President Biden who was his key Senate aide behind the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, signed 20 years ago this weekend. Hogan, who has been consulting since leaving Biden's office last summer, is a former staff director of Judiciary, and would help the NFL win back credibility on the issue with Capitol Hill.