Analysis - 'Teflon' league will roll on despite controversy

Thu Nov 7, 2013 7:11pm EST
 
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Bullying, racism and clubhouse culture are dominating all the talk about the National Football League (NFL) these days, but this too shall pass for the U.S. sporting juggernaut that seems impervious to controversy, experts say.

"It's the Teflon league," Bob Dorfman, executive creative director of San Francisco's Baker Street Advertising, told Reuters on Thursday. "No matter what you throw at it, it doesn't seem to stick."

The latest firestorm surrounds Richie Incognito, an All-Pro guard who was suspended indefinitely by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday after allegations of abuse, including racial epithets captured on voicemails, were made by teammate Jonathan Martin.

The case, which is being investigated for the NFL by high-powered attorney Ted Wells, has flung open the door on locker room cultures that embrace the frat-house style hazing of young players, and prize toughness and aggression.

It has also spawned debate across the universe of radio talk shows and office watercoolers about standing up to bullies and dealing with peer pressure and harassment in the workplace.

It may also help TV ratings.

"This whole hazing scandal will probably juice up the ratings for the Monday night game," Sports Business Journal NFL writer Daniel Kaplan said about the November 11 contest between the Dolphins (4-4) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8).

"Who would've wanted to tune in for that? But instead it's almost going to be like rubber-necking - people tuning in just to see how bad it is. In a morbid way, it's a fascinating match-up that will help the TV ratings."   Continued...

 
Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) celebrates with defensive tackle Randy Starks (94) defensive tackle Jared Odrick (98) and safety Jimmy Wilson (27) after Wake's sack for a safety in overtime on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (not pictured) at Sun Life Stadium. Miami won 22-20. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports