As I wrote for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana, the Pro Football Writers Association of America hands out the annual Pete Rozelle Award to the league’s best public relations operation.
Somehow, I suspect the Seattle Seahawks won’t be winning the award this year. Things are getting out of hand in the Great Northwest.
Richard Sherman, with some help from Doug Baldwin, used his weekly press conference yesterday to mock the NFL’s fine of $100,000 to Marshawn Lynch for not talking to the media. And he protested some other NFL policies.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and receiver Doug Baldwin did a parody in front of reporters Tuesday, making a point of criticizing the NFL over fining teammate Marshawn Lynch $100,000 for not talking to the media.
Sherman and Baldwin’s little comedy routine focused on what they view as the NFL’s hypocritical policies over what players can and cannot say.
Sherman went to the lectern in the team’s auditorium and stood next to a cardboard cutout of Baldwin, who was crouched behind it.
Sherman: “You know the other day, Marshawn Lynch got fined $100,000. Did you know that? They wouldn’t have paid him $100,000 if he had talked [before the fine]. Doug, do you think they would have paid him?”
Baldwin: “No, they sure would not.”
Sherman: “Geez, Louise. But you know who pays me a lot of money? Beats by Dre, the wonderful headphones I wear. But the league doesn’t let me say anything about them. Doug, why is that?”
Baldwin: “I don’t know. Sounds kind of hypocritical to me.”
NFL policy states that players are not allowed to show or use items with non-NFL sponsor logos 90 minutes before or after games.
And the act went on. Sherman also knocked the league for having beer companies as sponsors and for disregarding player safety by scheduling Thursday games.
Entertaining stuff, to be sure. Also, curious to do it two days before a big game at San Francisco. If the Seahawks lose, there will be issues of whether Sherman’s act was a distraction.
Here’s the point that Sherman, Lynch and probably many other players don’t understand. The NFL isn’t acting unilaterally with its policies on the media and endorsements.
The NFL Players Association has to sign off on these policies. If Sherman, Lynch have a problem, they should direct their protests to the NFLPA.
Also, in the ESPN.com piece, which cited Darren Rovell as a contributor, there’s this passage.
NFL players actually get 45 percent of the money generated from league endorsement deals, as that money then becomes part of the salary cap. A player like Sherman benefits indirectly from the league’s Bose headphones deal and gets paid by Apple, which owns competitor Beats By Dre.
Sherman has also been a direct beneficiary of an NFL deal. He is the spokesman for Campbell’s Chunky Soup, which is an official sponsor of the league.
That’s right, brother Sherman, you get paid for the league’s endorsements. More importantly, so do all the other players, including back-ups and special teammers, who aren’t as fortunate to have their own endorsement deals like you. The league has to maintain the integrity of its sponsors on game day.
Also, regarding the Thursday night games, Sherman and the players benefit there too. The games are worth at least $500 million in TV revenue, with 45 percent going to the players. And let’s not forget, the NFLPA signed off on playing these Thursday night games.
If the players were truly against them, their association could have said, “No, we’re not playing.” Of course, that would have meant less money in the revenue pool, forcing them to take a pay cut.
The same holds true for the NFL taking in billions from beer sponsors. Have a problem with that, Richard? OK, but less money for you. You good with that?
As for the NFL’s media policy requiring players to talk, few players have exploited the exposure better than Sherman. It has helped make him a very rich man.
Sherman should remember that the next time he claims the NFL is being hypocritical for its policies.