When do the off-duty actions of an employee affect the reputation of the leader of the company? When you lead one of the most recognized, most profitable organizations in the world and multiple star athletes get caught in abuse scandals, then you certainly have reason to worry. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reason to worry.

In the past few weeks, athletes Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson have tied themselves up in domestic and child abuse scandals and have dragged Goodell and the entire league into a pit of criticism. Not long after video footage leaked showing Rice punching his then fiancé, news surfaced that Peterson hit his young son with a tree branch as form of punishment.

Fans and critics alike are questioning Goodell’s handling of the Rice situation and many are calling for his resignation and using #BoycottNFL on social media. Now, with the additional abuse case, Goodell’s every action will be under a microscope. What could Goodell have done to avoid this crisis to begin with?

• Get in front of the situation. Get tough with Ray Rice – and every player in the league – and make the NFL a champion of this cause. Zero tolerance for abuse should be his, and the league’s, mantra.

• Align the situations with a violence prevention movement. It could have worked to Goodell’s benefit to use this time in the spotlight to take a stand against domestic violence for the entire league. Whoever gave Goodell the advice to levy the initial two-game suspension against Rice didn’t know the power of negative PR.

Because the NFL did neither of those, the initial crisis has turned into a full-blown publicity disaster. And now, with the news that yet another Carolina Panthers player was benched this weekend due to domestic violence, the nation is now watching to see how Goodell will respond to this PR crisis.

categorized in: ,