Having a well-attended, anticipated media day is any publicist's dream, but for NFL PR handlers, their Super Bowl presser this week quickly became a field day.
When a fan handed Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman an iPad and asked him to watch a video, the defensive back obliged, only to be asked by NFL staffers to remove the Sony headphones. The NFL's headphone sponsor is Bose.
This isn't the first time this season that headphones made the headlines. San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick was similarly thrust into the limelight alongside Sherman and others this year for sporting Beats by Dre headphones during warm ups and while in uniform.
In an effort to protect their brand partnership, the NFL's reaction to such "infractions" has provided Beats by Dre and other headphone vendors with an astounding volume of valuable, unsolicited press. Each publicized fine of a player provides a short-term monetary fix for the NFL and an unintended, long-term brand boost for Beats by Dre and others.
With Deflategate and other more serious off-field issues for players, creating a scandal-plagued season for the NFL, the overbearing edict on headphone usage seems misplaced. Sure, sponsors are and will continue to be the bread and butter of the NFL, but the fining over headphone usage is misguided when a host of other serious issues have arisen this year.
Compared with the magnitude of other scandals this year, headphone protection should be a play left on the cutting room floor. The more serious issues are the ones that should scare the NFL and their potential impact on the loss of sponsorship and fans. And they are doing Bose no favors by continuing to publicize their players' clear preference for a competitor’s brand.
Refocusing their attention on the true issues in the league, and letting the smaller penalties slide, will help the NFL save face among their fan base. Signs indicate their focus is shifting this way and the expected “No More” anti-domestic violence Super Bowl advertisement is a winning play for the league.
Mary is a true Detroit Lions fan, but will root for the Seahawks on Sunday. Connect with @airfoilgroup on Twitter and let us know your thoughts on the Super Bowl.