Anheuser-Busch, Pepsico criticize NFL over Rice, Peterson scandals

FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR END--FILE, JULY 14, 2008 FILE PHOTO.Jeff Roberson/ASSOCIATED PRESS Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, said of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson: ‘We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.’

Memo to the NFL: This Bud may no longer be for you.

Pro-football got blindsided Tuesday for its handling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandals by one of its biggest sponsors — beer maker Anheuser-Busch.

In a scathing 49-word statement, the league’s official suds-maker said they are “disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season.”

“We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code,” the company said. “We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

It was the first time Anheuser-Busch, the company behind popular beer brands like Budweiser, Bud Light and Busch, as well as imports like Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, weighed-in on the scandals that have been ruining the NFL’s reputation.

Anheuser-Busch stopped short of pulling its support from the beleaguered league for not cracking down harder on players accused of abusing children or beating women.

But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell got the message, loud and clear.

“We understand,” his spokesman, Brian McCarthy, said after the beer maker dropped its bomb. “We are taking action and there will be much more to come.”

David Spencer, co-founder of the New York-based marketing firm Talent Resources, said the fact that Anheuser-Busch weighed-in is a stunning sea change and a sign that middle America wants the NFL to act.

“When Anheuser-Busch speaks, Roger Goodell listens,” Spencer said. “They don’t go out on a limb. I was very surprised they came out and took a position.”

How valuable is Anheuser-Busch’s business to the NFL? How about $200 million a year?

That’s how much the iconic St. Louis-based company has been spending per year in advertising since 2011, when Bud Light officially replaced the MillerCoors company’s Coors Light as the NFL’s beer sponsor as part of a $1.2 billion deal with the league.

Also, Anheuser-Busch had forked over millions to the NFL to be the exclusive beer advertiser for the past 28 Super Bowls.

Between 2009 and 2013, Anheuser-Busch has spent $149 million on advertising for the game, according to Nielsen.

The beer giant weighed-in on the heels of Pepsico, which pumps about $100 million a year into the NFL coffers for the rights to advertise its products.

“Domestic violence is completely unacceptable,” the company said in a statement. “We are encouraged to see the NFL is now treating this with the seriousness it deserves.”

Anheuser-Busch lowered the boom on the NFL after the Radisson hotel chain announced it was suspending its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings because of Peterson’s indictment for child abuse in Texas.

“Radisson takes this matter very seriously, particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children,” the company said in a statement. “We are closely following the situation and effective immediately, Radisson is suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances.”

Also, the Nike company pulled all their Peterson gear from the shelves of sporting goods stores in the Twin Cities.

Earlier, McDonald’s, Visa and Campbell Soup served notice that they expect the NFL to do something fast about domestic violence.

“Domestic violence and abuse are unacceptable behaviors and have no place in sports, or anywhere,” McDonald’s said in a statement. “As McDonald’s is a family brand, we’ve communicated our concerns to the league, and we expect it to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues.”

Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, is indefinitely suspended from the NFL.SEAN GARDNER/REUTERS Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, is indefinitely suspended from the NFL.

Campbell Soup said it had also spoken to the NFL specifically about the horrifying video of Rice punching out his then fiancee and the subsequent investigation.

“We expect the NFL to take appropriate action,” the soupmaking giant said in a statement. “We have shared our views with the NFL.”

Peterson is facing a felony child abuse charge for spanking his 4-year-old son with a “switch” and accused of smacking around his other 4-year-old boy.

The Vikings yanked Peterson from the starting lineup Sunday after the accusations against their star running back first broke but they will allow him to continue playing.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said the Vikings should bench Peterson and called him a “public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the state of Minnesota.”

Legendary Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton said he too thinks Peterson doesn’t deserve to be on the field Sunday.

“The only way you’re going to get the attention of an NFL player is to take away his paycheck and take him off the field,” Tarkenton told FOX News.

Goodell and the NFL are also in hot water for suspending Rice for just two games after the former Baltimore Ravens running back admitted decking his now wife in an Atlantic City elevator.

It wasn’t until video emerged that showed Rice actually knocking Janay Palmer Rice out that Goodell suspended the player and the Ravens cut him.

The NFL is also under fire for going soft on Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, both of whom were charged with domestic violence and yet were allowed to start in their season openers.

Various womens organizations have called for Goodell to step down. He has refused to do so.


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