When Anheuser-Busch speaks, the NFL listens.
The leading television sponsor of the last five Super Bowls has chastised the league for its handling of player misbehavior. Video of three-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice knocking out the woman he subsequently married, the indictment of 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson on a child-abuse charge, and the suspension of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for driving under the influence with a large amount of narcotics in his car rank as a few of the more embarrassing headlines that have migrated from the sports page to the front page in recent weeks.
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” the company said on its website. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”
The NFL remains mute on Anheuser-Busch’s influence on “behaviors that so clearly go against” the league’s “company culture and moral code.” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy did say of the alcohol corporation’s scolding: “We understand. We are taking action and there will be much more to come.”
The beer behemoth, like Pepsi, Campbell’s Soup, McDonald’s, and other companies publicly expressing displeasure, has yet to put its money where its mouth is. A-B’s American-market leader Bud Light replaced Coors Light as the official beer of the NFL in 2011. Anheuser-Busch finds itself in the middle of a six-year, $1.2 billion deal with the league that enables it to display the NFL shield on its containers, among other perks. Anheuser-Busch’s products serve as a ubiquitous presence in NFL stadiums and for television viewers at home. The symbiotic relationship sees the NFL gobble up Anheuser-Busch cash while the league’s fans guzzle down Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch, Michelob, and other A-B brands in parking lots, on couches, and in the stands.
“The NFL is all about the fan, about action, and about fans getting together,” A-B CEO Carlos Brito declared upon agreeing to the deal making Bud Light the NFL’s official beer three years ago. “And as such, it is perfectly aligned with the Bud Light brand.”
Daniel J. Flynn, the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game (Regnery, 2013), edits Breitbart Sports.