Thursday, January 15, 2015

A no-decision decision

There are decisions you make only after much deliberation, and decisions that are so obvious they require no deliberation whatsoever.

The Indianapolis Colts are facing both right now.

The first decision is what they do with reserve linebacker/special teams player Josh McNary moving forward, after McNary was charged with rape, criminal confinement and battery stemming from a complaint filed by an Indianapolis woman after an incident that occurred Dec. 1.

The second decision is what they do about McNary this weekend, as they head to New England for the AFC championship game.

The first decision requires more thought. The second does not.

You leave him home.

You leave him home not because you've found him guilty until proven innocent, but because you are above all else a major component of a corporate entity that's trying to crawl out from under the shadow of Ray Rice and the elevator. Since Roger Goodell's addled slap on the wrist in that instance, the entire league has been furiously churning out makeup calls, instituting tough new policies and saying all the right things about how the Shield will not tolerate domestic/sexual abuse.

But you know what?

Half the country still thinks the Shield tolerates it. And that's because, no matter how much it likes to protest otherwise, it always pretty much has.

So this is a perception issue above everything else, and if you want to say that makes suspending McNary a PR move by the Colts, go right ahead. It is a PR move. That's because the NFL is a business like any other business, no matter what its anti-trust exemption says about that. It gets fat on the good will and loyalty of its customers. And good PR stemming from solid business practices is what generates that good will and loyalty.

If it weren't, there wouldn't so many PR firms out there making the kind of major coin they're making.

And so the Colts, and by proxy the NFL, can't afford to soft-shoe this, especially now. To their credit, the Colts never have. And it says here they won't this time.

You'd like to think at least part of their decision to leave McNary home, if that's indeed what they do, would stem from consideration for his alleged victim. But it won't be. It'll be about PR.

I'll let you decide what's wrong with that. 

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