Has the NFL Ever Gotten Off to a Worse Start?

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson cases fuel nightmares for the league's brand

It's only the second week for the sports media powerhouse that is the National Football League, but pro football has already topped headlines for all the wrong reasons.

On Friday afternoon, TMZ reported that Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to a child. Child Protective Services also confirmed to the online outlet that it was currently investigating the athlete. The case is especially disturbing, considering that another one of Peterson's children was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend last year. 

The news emerged just a few days after TMZ had posted a violent video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his wife (then fianceé) in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. Rice, who initially had been suspended by the league for just two games before the brutal clip emerged, was given an indefinite ban, cut from the Ravens and dropped by all his sponsors.

Many have criticized NFL commissioner Robert Goodell for his arguably lax stance on domestic violence, and have called for his ouster. That's on top of the smaller cases that have been bubbling below the surface, including the on-going debate about the link between concussion risk and degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, substance abuse policy rules and other issues.

To say that the NFL has an image problem this season would be an understatement. In fact, YouGov brand index reports that consumer perception has dropped to its lowest point since June 2012, when the NFL was beleaguered over stadium ban on bags and an incident with the New Orleans Saints, which had monetarily encouraged its players to inflict injuries on opposing teams. 

Fans reacted to Peterson’s indictment on Twitter, which began to trend on the social platform late Friday afternoon.