Has the news that the New Orleans Saints had a “bounty” program—paying defensive players $1,500 for a “knockout” and $1,000 for a “cart-off” of offensive opponents—been a PR disaster for the NFL?
Hardly. Currently the NFL is experiencing a Golden Age, in which fan interest has never been higher. TV viewership is the highest in league history, while online/social media interest—via video and Twitter—has skyrocketed. Commissioner Roger Goodell has got the league firing on all cylinders (and maybe a few extra ones), as witnessed by seemingly endless cable coverage of the recent NFL rookie combine workouts.
While fines and possibly suspensions for Saints coaches are predicted by sports pundits, reputation fallout for the brand should be minimal at most, despite the bounty hunting connection to the league’s efforts to curtail concussions. Let’s face it, NFL fans like the sport rough—a fact that the league is keenly aware of. Teeth-chattering hits that straddle the line of sportsmanship and dirty play are expected by fans and voraciously viewed on YouTube.
So while the NFL may be Teflon on this issue from a PR standpoint, there is something other brands can learn from this: Having a solid product with a “bounty” of rabid fans should get an organization through the most difficult crisis.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01