THE BLOG
11/01/2013 11:53 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

The NFL Goes Pink for the Green

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, has come to an end, and with it ends the NFL's "Crucial Catch Campaign" where players and referees wear pink paraphernalia to urge women to take part in annual screenings. The perception is that the NFL goes pink to make women aware of breast cancer. In reality, the NFL goes pink to make women aware of the NFL.

It should be written, first and foremost, that the NFL's Crucial Catch campaign, which is "focused on the importance on annual screenings, especially for women are 40 or older," is doing good. In fact, if just one woman see's a pink towel, or arm band, or shoe, and that flash of color motivates her to get screened, then the entire campaign has been a success. If one life is saved, the ends inarguably justify the means.

Those ends do not change the reality that the NFL's Crucial Catch Campaign at its core is motivated by the most despicable of human characteristics.

Greed, baby, greed.

The "Crucial Catch" website reads:

"The NFL, its clubs, players and the NFL Players Association are proud to support the fight against breast cancer. Our campaign, "A Crucial Catch", in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins - all to help raise awareness for this important campaign. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches, along with special game balls and pink coins will be auctioned off at NFL Auction, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society's Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program. The CHANGE program provides outreach and breast cancer screenings to women in underserved communities. "

Incredible. Wonderful. Admirable. Bravo. And right below it, you find a pink-colored link that reads:

To help support this important cause, purchase your NFL pink merchandise at NFLSHOP.com

So how much of your $upport is actually going towards this "important cause?" Not much, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN, who pointed out that out of every $100 spent on pink memorabilia, only $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society.

According to Cork Gaines at Business Insider, ""the remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5 percent) and the company that sells the merchandise (50.0 percent), which is often the NFL and the individual teams."

Bottom line: for every $100 spent on pink products, the NFL and the NFL franchises typically get up to $88.75, while the ACS never sees more than twelve dollars.

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So why has the NFL gone out of its way to support Breast Cancer screenings, of all things? It could be because women, by and large, aren't nearly as obsessed with professional football in the same way the male population is. It's not hard to imagine the likes of Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson sitting in a cigar-smoke filled board room discussing ways to engage a female audience and coming up with Crucial Catch.

"Just put it in pink!" they probably said. "It works with babies!"

Ok, maybe not. Regardless, Crucial Catch seems obviously motivated on tapping into an untapped population. Trying to attract more female viewers through charity seems an obvious route; in theory, it will also help the NFL deal with its evolving reputation as a sports league full of criminals and domestic abusers.

As pointed out by Chesea Cristene of Good Men Project, twenty-one of the thirty-two NFL franchises carried at least one player on their roster with a domestic violence charge or an assault charge on their record.

From Ben Roethlisberger to Jovan Belcher, the NFL has garnered the standing of turning a blind eye to bad-boy behavior. This is true of most sports franchises; if you're good enough, teams and owners tend to be okay overlooking the kind of activities that puts the layman away for life.

Pink towels and pink shoelaces send a different message: the NFL cares about doing the right thing. Unfortunately, too often doing the right thing comes second fiddle to winning; smacking your baby mama around is okay as long as you can do the same thing to the quarterback.

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Whether it's to defend a bad reputation or simply to attract a market that hasn't been handing over the dough, the one inarguable truth is that the Crucial Catch Campaign's main motivation isn't helping women. It's about helping the NFL.

After all, there are countless other "important causes" today that could use the help of a multi-billion dollar non-profit organization like the National Football League. If the chief concern of the fat cats that own the 32 NFL franchises was fighting for an important cause, we wouldn't just be watching athletes with pink accessories throughout October.

We'd see the players wear blue towels Week One, to urge men over 50 to get a colonoscopy.
We'd see the coaches throw purple challenge flags Week Two, to support child neglect awareness and prevention. We'd see refs rocking yellow jerseys, to remember MIA American soldiers.

There are 17 weeks in the NFL regular season. If the NFL owners really cared about "important causes," each week would have a different color. Each week would stand as a reminder: get checked for colon cancer, support child neglect prevention, remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

For example, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wears a different bow tie every Saturday on the MLB Game of the Week. Rosenthal takes advantage of a full 162-game schedule to support a wide range of "important causes," including the National Kidney Foundation, the ALS Association, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The NFL, meanwhile, has one month. For one cause. And the majority of the fundraising for said cause goes right back into their already unfathomably deep pockets.

The motivation is sour. The opportunity present fails on its potential. And while the ends are indeed positive, they're not nearly as beneficial as they could be.

It's not right to criticize charity. It's completely justified, however, to be disappointed.