As it turns out, gambling isn’t the only industry with respect to which the NFL has assumed Harvey Dent makeup.
When it comes to drinking, the league also has two conflicting approaches.
As to players and team employees, the league has taken a strong stance, putting alcohol within the scope of the league’s substance abuse policy and greatly restricting the availability of it at official team functions.
For years, however, the league has made plenty of money from “official beer sponsorships,” from the sale of beer at games (directly or indirectly), and from broadcast deals fueled in part by the money paid for beer commercials.
But now the league is taking it up a notch, implicitly promoting binge drinking by selling officially licensed beer pong tables.
Of course, they’re not called “beer pong tables.” They’re sold merely as “pong tables.” But unless they come with a net in the middle or an old-time video game system, the intended use is unmistakable.
[UPDATE: Apparently, the thing comes with a net. But, in or opinion, that's just aimed at making it look like a portable ping-pong table, which it isn't, and not a beer pong table, which it is. If you don't believe us, here's what a portable ping-pong table looks like. And here's what beer pong tables look like.]
Indeed, the folks at BeerPongNews.com claim to have a screen shot of a since-deleted tweet from NFLShop.com, in which the product is described as a “Ping (Beer) Pong Tailgate Table.”
[UPDATE: If you enter "officialnflshop" at this address, you'll see the deleted tweet.]
Look, we typically support the NFL. But in the aftermath of the Donte’ Stallworth DUI manslaughter case and amid a serious (and successful) effort to crack down on off-field player misconduct, the NFL should not be aiding and abetting binge drinking.
Sure, those who are inclined to play beer pong will do it anyway. But the use of tables with the colors and logos of NFL teams might cause the kids who witness this behavior in stadium parking lots to think that it is normal and acceptable.
We rarely call on the league to do anything, primarily because we know the league wouldn’t listen to what we have to say. On this point, however, we’re compelled to ask the league to discontinue selling beer pong tables, especially since I’ve got a 12-year-old who is pretty darn impressionable right now.