Sports Illustrated Reverses Course, Will Run Ads On Domestic Violence In The NFL

CREDIT: AP
CREDIT: AP

UltraViolet, a women’s group that has been critical of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case and others like it, has produced an advertisement that will run on Sports Illustrated’s web site this week just days before the Super Bowl, the Huffington Post reported.

The provocative ad shows a football player running, diving, and tackling a woman as a narrator says, “Let’s take domestic violence out of football.” The ad notes that there are “55 abuse cases unanswered” in the NFL and closes with the hashtag #GoodellMustGo, which UltraViolet has used to challenge the commissioner on air and around stadiums.

Sports Illustrated originally rejected the ad campaign, which includes banner ads that will run on the site. But in a statement to HuffPost, SI blamed the original rejection on a “technical glitch” that caused it to only review the banner ads, and an SI spokesman said that the magazine thought the banners “could be mistaken for our editorial stance.” Once it reviewed the video as well, it decided to run the ads on its site this Thursday.

Watch it:

UltraViolet, along with other women’s groups, has been an outspoken critic of the NFL’s handling of the Rice case since the former Baltimore Ravens running back was arrested for punching in then-fiancee in a hotel elevator. The group slammed Goodell’s original two-game suspension of Rice as “woefully inadequate,” and it started a petition drive calling for Goodell’s resignation that drew thousands of signatures. It has also flown banner ads with the hashtag #GoodellMustGo around multiple NFL stadiums throughout the season.

The NFL reshaped its domestic violence and sexual assault policies in the wake of the Rice case and others involving its players (though the league has basically admitted that parts of the policy were public relations-driven, and it has caused labor issues in Rice’s case and others). And UltraViolet again targeted Goodell after the release of the league’s quasi-independent report into the commissioner’s handling of the Rice case, saying in a statement, “The NFL has a domestic abuse problem, and it simply doesn’t have the leadership to fix it. … It’s time to take domestic violence out of the NFL, but first Goodell must go.”

UltraViolet’s ad won’t be the only one calling attention to issues in the NFL during Super Bowl week. The Change The Mascot campaign last week released a 30-second web ad calling for a change to the name of Washington’s football team — it is the second such ad the group has produced after a similar one during last year’s Super Bowl. Neither ad will appear on TV during the game, when 30-second ad slots sell for as much as $4.5 million. The NFL donated more than $35 million in commercial slots to the No More campaign for domestic violence public service announcements during the regular season and playoffs, but it is unclear whether any similar PSAs will be shown during the Super Bowl.