A women's advocacy organization, UltraViolet, has launched a powerful new ad campaign against Roger Goodell and the National Football League's domestic violence issues. According to a press release sent to Bustle, UltraViolet launched the new ad in light of the recent rape allegations against Indianapolis Colts' linebacker Joshua McNary. During the AFC and NFC championship games Sunday, the advocacy organization flew planes over the stadium with a banner reading #GoodellMustGo.
The plane banners and the 16-second ad are designed to call attention to the NFL commissioner's mishandling of the various domestic abuse cases in the league, and they both lead to the hashtag that calls for Goodell's resignation. Goodell came under fire for his handling of the domestic abuse allegations against Ray Rice, who was suspended for only two games before video of the abuse against his now-wife Janay Palmer was released. Rice was soon indefinitely suspended, but won his appeal. To many, including UltraViolet and the National Organization for Women, this "incident" was a sign that NFL leadership needed to take steps to change the culture of violence against women that is allowed to pervade the league.
The powerful — and alarming — ad, which will appear on Sports Illustrated's website, shows close-up video shots of a football player preparing to run, then taking off and tackling a woman standing on the field. A statistic follows: "55 NFL abuse cases unanswered."
Shaunna Thomas, cofounder of UltraViolet, says:
Under Goodell’s tenure, more than 55 cases of domestic abuse went unanswered and the latest charges of rape against Colts linebacker Josh McNary, who was set to play in the AFC Championship, underscore the need for action. Plain and simple: NFL has a domestic abuse problem, and it simply doesn’t have the leadership to fix it. It is clear that Roger Goodell’s NFL took no initiative to prosecute domestic abusers and protect their victims and it is clear that the NFL will not take domestic violence seriously until Roger Goodell is gone.
This is the second campaign UltraViolet has launched against Goodell. In September, in response to the Rice abuse allegations, the organization first flew planes with the #GoodellMustGo banner over several football games around the United States. UltraViolet also created a petition calling for the commissioner's resignation, saying that the 55 abuses cases that have gone unanswered undermine the NFL's credibility and prove it's time for him to go.
With Super Bowl XLIX coming up on Feb. 1, this campaign comes right as national viewer interest soars. Sports Illustrated's website will be bombarded with visits, and UltraViolet's ad will likely be seen by millions. As we gear up not only to watch what will inevitably be more sexist Super Bowl commercials than we'd like to see, but also to watch players partake in an honestly pretty violent sport, let's hope that football fans pay a little more attention to what's going on behind the game, too.