At this moment, Plaxico Burress is the most famous professional football player in the world. He took the title from Michael Vick, who replaced PacMan Jones and OJ Simpson and Lawrence Tayor. All were good to great players, yet none areÂ wellÂ knownÂ for their on-field accomplishments.
Every sport has bad guys, but other leagues have stars to overshadow the news. Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson attacked paying customers, but when you think of the NBA, your first thought these days is LeBron. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are a pair of creeps, but how about that Derek Jeter? Even the NHL has Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin to try to recover fromÂ the McSorleyÂ attack, the Bertuzzi situation and a labor stoppage which wiped out an entire season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spearheaded an effort to eliminate bad behavior from his players. He’s fined and suspended PacMan and Tank Johnson and Chris Henry for getting involved in some dicey off the field activities.Â That’s all well and good. But it seems like Goodell needs to go on a charm offensive to solve his sport’s image problem.
The NFL has always been more about team than individual accomplishments. That’s a fine life lesson, but it’s no way to clean up an image. The Giants are everything you would ever want out of a team, yet Plax is the only member of Big Blue who a non-football fan will be able to name. That’s ridiculous. Why doesn’t the league promote individual personalities of likable guys. Adrian Peterson, Mario Williams, Matt Ryan. There are plenty of great stories to choose from. Take a page out of the David Stern handbook and talk these guys up.Â It’s the best way to stop the wave of negative coverage.