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Is Budweiser the king of green beers? We unpacked its Super Bowl ads.

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Super Bowl LIII made history yesterday as the lowest-scoring NFL championship of all time. In other words, it was kind of a snoozefest. But if the lack of touchdowns — combined with shirtless Adam Levine — didn’t compel you to turn off the TV, you may have noticed an interesting trend in the big game’s beer commercials. Budweiser, the so-called “king of beers,” is trying really hard to make itself the beer of tree-hugging, health-conscious millennials.

In at least two (we’re going to leave the nature-filled, ASRM ear porn one alone for now) of its eight Super Bowl commercials for various products, beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev seemed to lean hard on environmentally-themed marketing messages.

In the most blatant enviro-targeting ad, the scene opens with a Dalmatian sitting atop a Bud-laden wagon pulled by Clydesdales romping through a picturesque field, which upon zoom-out reveals itself to be a wind farm. Cue the line “Now brewed with wind power, for a better tomorrow.” Oh, and did we mention it’s set to the tune of “Blowin’ in the Wind?” Subtle.

Then, in a Monty Python-esque epic sequence of royal mishaps and alcoholic adventuring, the company made it clear Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup, directly calling out its competitors — Miller Lite and Coors Light — for using the much-maligned syrup.

Anheuser-Busch is far from the first company to take advantage of Americans’ growing concerns over climate change. Remember those midterm election campaign ads touting candidates’ climate credentials? We certainly do. But to see green issues front and center (at least for 30 seconds at a time) during the Super Bowl was a little surreal to some viewers.

“I never thought there’d be an intersection between AGRICULTURE and FOOTBALL, but then came the BREW-HA-HA about CORN SYRUP in BEER!” Washington Post columnist Tamar Haspel tweeted about the king’s quest ad. But as Haspel points out in her extended thread, being an environmentally friendly beer company takes more than a few commercials.

The criticism of Bud’s Super Bowl ads has been swift. Understandably, the corn industry was pretty miffed that America’s favorite beer would publicly turn on corn farmers.

Bud Light uses rice to do the same job that corn syrup or other added sugars do in competing brews. So … how much does that really matter, planet-wise? Corn syrup, rice syrup, or no syrup, beer has never exactly been a health beverage. Rice and corn both have their associated emissions — but so do all foods. So maybe we should just eat less meat, and get over it?

As for the wind power, Anheuser-Busch InBev is indeed making moves to get to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025. That’s big coming from such a massive company — the largest brewer in the world. AB isn’t just responsible for big names like Bud and Michelob, it also owns hipster favorites like Elysian, Devils Backbone, and hundreds more. The company set goals to improve sourcing, water stewardship and packaging for all its brews over the next several years. This is all great, and so is the push for greater transparency of ingredients in alcoholic beverages — but before we raise a glass, there are a few more things to consider.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is still a gigantic corporation, and one with apparent ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose rejection of climate science and environmental regulation is so extreme that even Exxon Mobil decided to jump ship.

So at the end of the day, how should we view the green-tinged promise (and it’s not even Saint Patrick’s Day yet!) of these beer ads? Supporting progressive climate action on a political scale, in addition to its company-wide initiatives, would likely be in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s best interest. It’s also in our best interest if we want to keep drinking beer in the years to come. Climate change is coming for our crops, including rice, corn, hops, and barley — so unless we act fast, we won’t even have a frothy pint to drown our sorrows in.

Now if that doesn’t send you running for the vegan chicken wings and electric cars, I don’t know what will.

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Is Budweiser the king of green beers? We unpacked its Super Bowl ads.

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The NFL Sucks So Hard

Mother Jones

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I don’t suppose anyone cares, but I just want to say for the record that I agree entirely with Bill Plaschke today:

Every relationship is built on honesty, so the San Diego Chargers should hear this as their moving vans are chugging up the 5 Freeway on their noble mission of greed.

We. Don’t. Want. You.

The NFL sucks so hard. They stayed out of Los Angeles for two decades desperately trying to prove that, by God, no city would get an NFL team unless they ponied up taxpayer dollars for a stadium. Now we’re about to have two teams, and for the exact same reason: to show San Diego that, by God, an NFL team won’t stay in a city unless they pony up taxpayer dollars for a better stadium. And not just any dollars. Enough dollars to satisfy the lords of football.

Did I mention just how hard the NFL sucks?

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The NFL Sucks So Hard

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The NFL Really Doesn’t Like Being Compared to Big Tobacco

Mother Jones

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For more than a decade, the National Football League supported a series of peer-reviewed studies that concluded that brain injuries sustained during football players’ careers did not lead to long-term consequences. But a new investigation by the New York Times reports that the research omitted data from more than 100 documented concussions—and, perhaps more troubling, that the NFL had a closer connection to the tobacco industry than previously known.

While the Times found “no direct evidence that the league took its strategy from Big Tobacco,” its story lays out a series of overlapping ties between the league and tobacco giants, from hires to requests for advice. A league attorney challenged the assertion in a letter to the Times that was included in the story, writing, “The N.F.L. is not the tobacco industry; it had no connection to the tobacco industry.”

But the league didn’t stop there. On Thursday morning, the league released a statement pushing back against the Times report. The newspaper then followed up with a series of tweets refuting the NFL’s statement—after which the league responded with another statement.

Here’s a point-by-point breakdown of what the Times reported and how both sides responded to each other’s claims on Thursday:

Times on NFL’s use of flawed data: “For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies—including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.”

NFL’s initial statement: “In fact, the MTBI studies published by the MTBI Committee are clear that the data set had limitations…The studies never claimed to be based on every concussion that was reported or that occurred. Moreover, the fact that not all concussions were reported is consistent with the fact that reporting was strongly encouraged by the League but not mandated, as documents provided to the Times showed.”

Times‘ responses:

NFL’s follow-up statement: “The studies themselves expressly noted the limitations in their work and never claimed to be based on every concussion that was reported or that occurred. The fact that not all concussions were reported is consistent with the fact that reporting was strongly encouraged by the League but not mandated, as the documents we provided to the Times showed. We nevertheless agree that these limitations could have been more clearly stated.”

Times on Dorothy Mitchell, a former legal liaison who oversaw the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, and her ties to the tobacco industry: “Before joining the N.F.L., Ms. Mitchell, a young Harvard Law School graduate, had been one of five lawyers at Covington & Burling who had provided either lobbying help or legal representation to both the N.F.L. and the tobacco industry, sometimes in the same year.”

NFL’s initial statement: “Her experience as a young lawyer working on a tobacco case (among many other cases) was entirely unknown to the NFL personnel who hired and supervised her, as well as to members of the MTBI Committee, until they learned of this proposed story.”

Times‘ response:

NFL’s follow-up: “At her law firm, Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., Dorothy Mitchell worked on a wide variety of matters, including employment matters for the League and a matter for the Tobacco Institute as a young associate. The NFL did not seek out Ms. Mitchell for employment or know that she had worked on any tobacco matter.”

Times on contact between Lorillard general counsel Arthur Stevens and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 1992: “In 1992, amid rising concerns about concussions, Mr. Tisch—the Giants and Lorillard part owner—asked the cigarette company’s general counsel, Arthur J. Stevens, to contact the N.F.L. commissioner at the time, Mr. Tagliabue, about certain legal issues…In a letter obtained by The Times, Mr. Stevens referred Mr. Tagliabue to two court cases alleging that the tobacco and asbestos industries had covered up the health risks of their products.”

NFL’s initial statement: “In fact, neither then-NFL Commissioner, Mr. Tagliabue, the League nor its counsel ever solicited, reviewed, or relied on any advice from anyone at Lorillard or the Tobacco Institute regarding health issues.”

Times‘ response:

NFL’s follow-up: “Commissioner Tagliabue did not know Mr. Stevens and does not recall communicating with him prior to or after the October 20 letter. There is no evidence in an extensive review of files that Mr. Tagliabue solicited the advice, reviewed the advice or acted upon the advice. Nor did anyone else at the League ever take any action regarding health issues based on advice from Lorillard or the Tobacco Institute.”

Times on the league and tobacco industry sharing lobbyists: “Still, the records show that the two businesses shared lobbyists, lawyers and consultants. Personal correspondence underscored their friendships, including dinner invitations and a request for lobbying advice.”

NFL’s initial statement: “In fact, the League has never participated—either through its counsel of over 50 years, Covington & Burling, or otherwise—in any joint lobbying efforts with the Tobacco Institute.”

Times‘ response:

NFL’s follow-up: “The NFL has worked with Covington & Burling for more than 50 years, and both the NFL and the Tobacco Institute have retained Covington & Burling at various times for lobbying services—as have any number of other companies and individuals in Washington and elsewhere. But the NFL never participated in any joint lobbying efforts with the Tobacco Institute. Regarding health and safety, the NFL retained assistance from Covington & Burling from 2009-2014 for its lobbying efforts in state legislatures to pass youth concussion laws, the ‘Lystedt Law,’ in all 50 states.”

Times on NFL’s use of the same research firm as the Tobacco Institute: “On at least two occasions in the 1970s and 1980s, the N.F.L. hired a company whose client list included the Tobacco Institute to study player injuries. The league also hired a company — for a matter unrelated to player safety—that had performed a study for the tobacco industry that played down the danger of secondhand smoke.”

NFL’s response: “The Times asserts a connection between the League and the Tobacco Institute because both hired the Stanford Research Institute (SRI)…In fact, one of the research studies the Times alludes to was jointly commissioned by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. There is no evidence that SRI engaged in misleading or inappropriate research.”

Times on former NFL president Neil Austrian: “Neil Austrian, a former N.F.L. president, had previously run an advertising agency that under his leadership reversed its ban on taking tobacco clients. He called Philip Morris ‘an honorable company that sets high standards.’ It was during his tenure at the N.F.L. that the concussion committee was created.”

NFL’s response: “Mr. Austrian had no involvement with the MTBI Committee during his tenure at the NFL. Mr. Austrian was responsible for the business entities of the league.”

Times on Joe Browne, the NFL’s former senior vice president of communications: “When Congress was considering legislation that dealt with when a team owner could relocate a franchise, Joe Browne, a league official sought lobbying advice from a representative of the Tobacco Institute. ‘I would like to take the opportunity to sit down and discuss this bill with you further,’ Mr. Browne said in a 1982 letter to the institute’s president, Sam Chilcote.”

NFL’s response: “The Times implies that there was a nefarious relationship between Joe Browne and Sam Chilcote. In fact, Joe Browne (then NFL SVP of Communications) built a personal relationship with Sam Chilcote while Mr. Chilcote was at the Distilled Spirits Council in the 1970s…Mr. Browne contacted Mr. Chilcote in 1982 for some advice as someone he knew in Washington, DC about a subject completely unrelated to tobacco, concussions, or any player-related or medical issue. We have seen no evidence—from the Times or otherwise—that demonstrated their relationship had anything to do with tobacco or NFL health and safety.”

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The NFL Really Doesn’t Like Being Compared to Big Tobacco

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What the NFL’s concussion scandal has in common with tobacco and ExxonMobil

What the NFL’s concussion scandal has in common with tobacco and ExxonMobil

By on 24 Mar 2016commentsShare

A New York Times investigation published Thursday confirms that the National Football League’s research on player concussions was seriously flawed, undercounting diagnoses by more than 10 percent in a series of studies from 1996 to 2001. At the same time, the league appeared to engage in a systematic campaign of obfuscation and denial. Even now that the the NFL’s top health official has admitted that football and degenerative brain disorders are “certainly” linked, some NFL fans and stakeholders remain unconvinced — publicly, at least. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for instance, said this week that “there’s no data that in any way creates a knowledge” — in other words, the jury’s still out.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the NFL’s techniques are like those employed for decades by Big Tobacco to confuse consumers over the scientific research on smoking. In fact, the Times reports, the NFL hired tobacco lawyers, advisors, and lobbyists to help them do exactly that. In the 1990s, for instance, the league employed Dorothy Mitchell, an attorney who had also represented the Tobacco Institute in lawsuits over the health effects of cigarettes and secondhand smoke.

All this sounds remarkably like another industry that we now know borrowed tactics from Big Tobacco: oil and gas. In 1996, as the world considered acting to curtail fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, then-Exxon CEO Lee Raymond said, “Scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate,” adding that “scientists agree there’s ample time to better understand climate systems and consider policy options, so there’s simply no reason to take drastic action now.”

The idea that “evolving science” means there’s no need to act is still prevalent among polluters and their political allies. “It is not unanimous among scientists that [climate change] is disproportionately manmade,” one-time presidential candidate Jeb Bush said last year. Last year, investigations by InsideClimate News, the Los Angeles Times, and Columbia University uncovered how Exxon-Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute were at the cutting edge of climate change research in the 1970s, until they reversed course to create a culture of denial we know too well today.

Big Oil, like the tobacco industry in the 1950s and perhaps now the NFL since the 1990s, knew of a major problem long before it admitted to it publicly. And like the health of smokers and football players, our health and the planet’s has suffered for it.



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What the NFL’s concussion scandal has in common with tobacco and ExxonMobil

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Your City Will Never Get Rich Hosting the Super Bowl

Mother Jones

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Along San Francisco’s Embarcadero, right in front of the restored Ferry Building, a fan village known as Super Bowl City is expected to draw at least a million visitors this week. Super Bowl Host Committee officials project that not only will San Francisco finish in the black after the nine-day event, but that it also could generate anywhere between “a couple hundred million to $800 million” in economic output for the city. What’s more, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study projected that the Bay Area could see at least $220 million in direct revenue from business during the Super Bowl, the most ever.

But where do those numbers come from, and how accurate are they, really? We reached out to two economists who study the impact of mega sporting events, and their assessment was less than rosy. Here are some takeaways:

Every year, the same studies come out. Every year, they’re wrong. When the NFL and its host committee estimate the event’s economic impact, they tend to forget how the city operates before the event, says Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College. For example, San Francisco’s hotel occupancy rate typically has hovered around 90 percent in February. So when Super Bowl fans flood area hotels, they’re likely just filling spots that would have already been filled. Additionally, residents can be reluctant to visit the Super Bowl City area over fear of traffic, congestion, and increased security, displacing typical economic activity and leaking money out of the city. Notably, on Super Bowl City’s opening day, only 7,000 people showed up.

“I’m expecting next year they’re going to come out and say the host city is going to turn into New York City. Not really. It’s silly,” Zimbalist says. “Every year they come out with the same stuff. The studies that they do are based on a false methodology and unrealistic assumptions.”

The host city’s Super Bowl committee usually keeps quiet about the projected economic benefits to the host city or the region. Previous analyses by university researchers, in partnership with the NFL and host committees, have measured the gross economic benefits anywhere between $400 million and $700 million. For instance, researchers at Arizona State University found that last year’s Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, brought $719 million of total economic impact to the state.

ASU would not release the entire study to Mother Jones under an agreement with the NFL and the host committee. But Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of Holy Cross who examined the study’s summary findings, told Mother Jones that researchers failed to take into account the region’s typical activity. Matheson argues that the true impact for the host city usually falls between $30 million and $120 million.

San Francisco gave up a lot to get Super Bowl City, and still needs to figure out how to pay for it. This year, Super Bowl City is 45 miles away from the actual big game, which will take place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. But San Francisco’s taxpayers are on the hook for at least $4.8 million in city services during Super Bowl week. Why? An independent budget analysis found that San Francisco did not make a formal agreement with the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee to receive a reimbursement for those services. Or, as SF Weekly recently put it, “The Super Bowl is here on little more than a handshake deal.”

As Zimbalist notes, $4.8 million is a small number when you consider San Francisco’s $8.96 billion budget. Still, he says, “it’s $5 million not being spent on road repairs and schools.” Or on the city’s roughly 3,500 homeless, some of whom recently relocated from the Super Bowl City area to a growing tent encampment under a highway overpass in the Mission District. San Francisco magazine counted 100 tents in the area, though homeless advocates and officials say the encampment has grown over the course of a few months, even years. A host committee official told Bloomberg News in January that the group would invest $13 million of the $50 million it had already raised in charities addressing homelessness and poverty.

Meanwhile, as part of the Super Bowl bid, San Francisco’s police, fire, and emergency management departments “signed letters of assurance to not seek reimbursement from the NFL” for providing more services during the Super Bowl—an arrangement that Matheson said isn’t unusual. (Last year’s Super Bowl likely cost the city of Glendale at least $579,000 and as much as $1.25 million in security and transportation cost overruns.) Only two departments will earn money back from the host committee—the fire department (a 6.7 percent reimbursement) and parks and recreation (100 percent). Jane Kim, who sits on San Francisco’s board of supervisors and has called the city’s non-agreement “the worst deal ever,” pushed for a last-minute bill to make the city renegotiate with the NFL, less than a week before the events at Super Bowl City were set to start.

The city’s municipal transportation agency and police department will spend a combined $3.8 million for services to Super Bowl 50 events; the transportation department will spend more than $700,000 on additional parking enforcement alone. The city will try to cover this by redirecting funds in different department budgets along with staff time from future projects “to support this extraordinary special event.” For now, some city workers will volunteer their time during Super Bowl week.

All told, it could’ve been worse. Take Super Bowl XLVIII, which left New Jersey residents with a $17.7 million tab. Or last year’s big game, which cost Glendale—a city of 230,000 where more than 40 percent of its debt is set aside to pay off sports facilities—more than $2.1 million to pay for security alone. And while Santa Clara’s taxpayers still have to deal with the public subsidies that helped fund Levi’s Stadium, the city did manage to make a deal to earn back roughly $3.6 million in service costs for the Super Bowl.

“In the big picture,” Matheson says, “this is one of the cheapest for the taxpayers that we’ve seen.”

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Your City Will Never Get Rich Hosting the Super Bowl

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Christmas Eve Catblogging – 24 December 2015

Mother Jones

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If the NFL can have a special Saturday edition of Thursday Night Football, then I can have a special Thursday edition of Friday Catblogging. This is my Christmas gift to all of you: catblogging a day early.

But there’s more! Today you get a movie. And not just any movie: in the spirit of the season, today’s movie brings ultimate cat fighting into your home. Be sure to note Hilbert’s stealthy, almost ninja-like paw movement at the beginning. I score it two takedowns for each, but Hilbert’s stunning surprise attack at the end threw Hopper out of the ring and won the bout. In the middle, you’ll notice that they fight like a couple of six-year-old girls. An hour after it was over, they both conked out and curled up together on the teal chair downstairs.

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Christmas Eve Catblogging – 24 December 2015

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Justice Clarence Thomas Cites NFL Player’s Memoir to Support Executing Mentally Disabled Man

Mother Jones

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Supreme Court justices generally support their opinions with references to other cases and perhaps the occasional scientific study. But on Thursday, Justice Clarence Thomas cited an unusual source in his dissent in a death penalty case: the memoir of a professional football player. The player is also the son of the victim in the case. Thomas’ unorthodox move prompted two of his fellow conservatives to distance themselves from this section of his dissent, which they otherwise supported.

The case in question is Brumfield v. Cain, in which death row inmate Kevan Brumfield argued that the state of Louisiana denied him the opportunity to prove in court that he is intellectually disabled and, consequently, exempt from execution. Brumfield’s attorney had presented evidence that Brumfield was born prematurely, had been in special ed in elementary school, had a low IQ of 75, had been abused by his stepfather, and had spent time in a mental hospital and group homes due to his disability. But he was sentenced to death before a 2002 Supreme Court decision that the Eighth Amendment barred the execution of the intellectually disabled. After that decision, Brumfield petitioned the Louisiana courts to allow him a hearing to show that his disability should exempt him from execution. The Louisiana courts denied his requests, and the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision. On Thursday, the Supreme Court majority reversed the lower court and ruled in Brumfield’s favor, sending his case back to Louisiana for further hearings on his mental capacity.

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Justice Clarence Thomas Cites NFL Player’s Memoir to Support Executing Mentally Disabled Man

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Cheater Punished

Mother Jones

Don’t do the crime if you can’t…well, maybe just don’t do the crime?

The NFL has suspended New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games for his role in deflating football for the AFC Championship Game, the league said in a statement Monday.

The Patriots will also lose a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 and have been fined $1 million.

(via ESPN)

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Cheater Punished

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The NFL’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Mother Jones

With the Super Bowl days away, the sports world’s hot-take artists have spent the past week toggling between the intrigue and idiocy of Deflategate to the press conference reticence of Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch. In some ways, it has been the perfect ending to a dreadful year for the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Famous for his “protect the shield” mantra and disciplinarian ways, Goodell has seen his reputation get battered throughout the controversy-filled 12 months since Super Bowl XLVIII. So, as Ballghazi rages on and the big game approaches, here’s a look back at the recent firestorms and missteps that made 2014 such a rotten year for the league and its commish:

Ray Rice: It was bad enough when the league initially suspended Rice, then the Baltimore Ravens’ star running back, for a paltry two games after his February arrest for assaulting his then-fiancée (now wife) at an Atlantic City casino. It got worse when the Ravens further bungled the situation. But when TMZ released security camera footage in September that actually showed Ray Rice punching Janay Rice, the league had to suspend him indefinitely—even as Goodell maintained that he had never before seen the video. (Numerous reports have made those claims seem laughable.) The NFL toughened its domestic-abuse policies, sure, and will air an ad during the Super Bowl to raise awareness. But the damage from the league’s initial inaction already has been done. As Tracy Treu, the wife of former Oakland Raiders center Adam Treu, told me back in September, “When you’re with an NFL team, the message to you is clear: Don’t fuck anything up for your partner, and don’t fuck anything up for the team.”

Adrian Peterson: Just days after the explosive Rice video was released, the Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro running back was accused of hitting his four-year-old son with a switch and was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child. For a short time it looked like Peterson would be back on the field after missing just a week of work, but the Vikings quickly reversed course, and the NFL ultimately suspended him for the remainder of the season.

Greg Hardy/Jonathan Dwyer: Lost a bit in the Rice and Peterson headlines were the domestic-assault charges against Hardy, a Carolina Panthers defensive end, and Dwyer, an Arizona Cardinals running back. Hardy’s then-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, testified in July that Hardy had dragged her around his apartment, threw her on a futon covered in rifles, and then put his hands on her throat. “I was so scared I wanted to die,” she testified. Hardy was convicted; his appeal is set for February. (He took a paid leave of absence in September, in part to avoid a possible suspension.) Dwyer allegedly head-butted his wife and broke her nose in July. She reportedly went to police after seeing the Peterson news in September and fearing for her child’s safety. Dwyer was put on the reserve/non-football-injury list and pleaded not guilty to charges on Monday.

Concussions: The league’s ongoing concussion scandal may have peaked in 2013 with the airing of the Frontline documentary League of Denial, but the issue of player safety—indeed, the long-term viability of the game—isn’t going away anytime soon. In July, a federal judge preliminarily approved a settlement between the league and former players over concussion-related claims. Since then, more than 200 players have opted out of the settlement, objecting to the restrictions embedded in the deal. As ESPN the Magazine‘s Peter Keating wrote, “Fewer than 3,600 athletes, or about 17 percent of all retired players, will end up with some kind of illness that the settlement will compensate, according to forecasts by both sides in the case.” (The settlement is still awaiting final approval.) Next up: the Christmas release of Will Smith’s Concussion, a feature film based on a GQ profile of neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, one of the first physicians to fight the NFL on brain trauma.

Dan Snyder and the Washington Redacted: We’ve already covered many of the dumb things Snyder has said in recent months. Even after 50 US senators called on the Washington owner to change his team’s name, the team still managed to start something called the Original Americans Foundation and continue to be completely tone deaf on social media. The Native American-led protests against the name will continue into this weekend in Arizona.

Snyder: Nick Wass/AP; dunce cap: Stockbyte/Thinkstock. Illustration by Dave Gilson.

Cheerleading lawsuits: If you haven’t read my colleague Julia Lurie’s roundup of the many lawsuits brought by current and former cheerleaders against NFL teams, go do that now. Here’s an excerpt, about how different teams determine whether their cheerleaders are fit enough to perform:

The Jills allege being subjected to a weekly “jiggle test,” which consisted of doing jumping jacks while their stomachs, arms, legs, hips, and butts were scrutinized. (The Jills manual also instructs, “Never eat in uniform unless arrangements have been made in advance. Just say ‘Thanks so much for offering but no thank you’…NEVER say, ‘Oh, we’re not allowed to eat!'”) Ben-Gals are required to weigh in twice a week, and if they come in more than three pounds over their “goal weight,” they face penalties: extra conditioning after practice, benchings, probation, or dismissal from the team.

Aaron Hernandez trial: Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end who was arrested a year and a half ago for the shooting death of friend Odin Lloyd, is back in the news now that the jury has been selected and his murder case is set to start Thursday in Connecticut. Hernandez also has been charged with two more murder counts for a July 2012 double-murder in Massachusetts.

Anti-gay front offices: Linebacker Michael Sam came out as gay before the NFL Draft last February. No one knew for sure how it would play out—or what effect it would have on Sam’s draft status—but a Sports Illustrated story that anonymously quoted general managers and front-office types around the league wasn’t exactly welcoming. “I don’t think football is ready for an openly gay player just yet,” said one personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game.” Sam was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams but was cut just before the season began. (After latching on with the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad for a spell, he’s once again a free agent, albeit an engaged one.)

Jim Irsay: The Indianapolis Colts’ billionaire owner was charged with driving while intoxicated in October; he later admitted to having hydrocodone, oxycodone, and Xanax in his system. (Police said they found “numerous prescription medication bottles containing pills,” as well as $29,000 in cash, in Irsay’s car.) The NFL suspended the outspoken 55-year-old for six games and fined him $500,000.

Goodell’s salary: As of 2012, according to tax forms, the Commish was making $44.2 million a year. (Yes, the NFL is still a nonprofit.)

Not so super: While Super Bowl XLIX could break the TV ratings record, Mina Kimes reports in the latest ESPN the Magazine that the mayor of Glendale, Arizona—this year’s host site—told her, “I totally believe we will lose money on this.”

Jameis Winston on the horizon: If all of this weren’t enough, this spring’s NFL Draft will surely be all about Winston, the presumptive No. 1 pick and Heisman Award winner who was accused (but never charged) of rape as a Florida State freshman in 2012. Winston was recently cleared of violating FSU’s code of conduct, though a 2013 New York Times report alleged that “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university,” after the allegations were made. The story isn’t going away anytime soon: Last week, Winston’s accuser went public in The Hunting Ground, a documentary on campus sexual assault that debuted Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

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The NFL’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

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The NFL Has a Domestic-Violence Problem, But All We Got Was This PSA

Mother Jones

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Ever since the NFL embarrassingly mishandled the Ray Rice domestic-assault incident this summer, the league has tried to prove it has become enlightened about violence against women. Its latest attempt? A 30-second Super Bowl ad.

The new public service announcement, which will air during the first quarter of Sunday’s game, pans through a house in disarray, presumably because of a domestic dispute, while audio of a woman talking to a 911 dispatcher plays over it. At the end, a message flashes on: “Help End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; Pledge to Say ‘No More.'” The PSA was made, free of charge, by advertising giant Grey for the sexual- and domestic-violence-awareness group NO MORE; the league donated the prime advertising spot, worth about $4.5 million.

These broadcasts are part of an NFL offensive to save face after the Baltimore Ravens and the league created an uproar by barely punishing Rice after he was first charged with assaulting his then-fiancée (and current wife). It wasn’t until TMZ leaked security footage showing Ray Rice punching Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator (which Goodell dubiously claimed he hadn’t seen before) that the NFL indefinitely suspended the Ravens running back and began to make an effort to change how it handles players accused of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The NFL has since reformed its punishments for players involved in domestic or sexual violence, created rather confusing new disciplinary bodies to determine and hand out those punishments, required the league to attend education sessions about sexual assault and domestic violence, and hired female advisers to improve how the league deals with domestic violence.

The NFL had its first test leading up to the AFC Championship game, when it put the Indianapolis Colts’ Josh McNary on paid leave after he was charged with rape. But in order for the NFL to prove that it’s committed to lasting reform of an entrenched culture that has long ignored and even enabled violence against women, it will to need to continue to address these issues—long after its Super Bowl ad has aired and the dust of this horrible season has settled.

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The NFL Has a Domestic-Violence Problem, But All We Got Was This PSA

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