In a refreshingly candid discussion regarding the league’s reaction to the failure of 400 fans who purchased tickets to the Super Bowl to actually gain entry to the Super Bowl, NFL executive V.P. of business ventures and Chief Financial Officer Eric Grubman appeared on Thursday’s ProFootballTalk Live to discuss the situation and its aftermath. (The full transcript can be seen right here.)
To Grubman’s credit, the league is accepting responsibility for the situation, to a point. The league, through Grubman, definitely is saying all the right things. “The way we look at it is we’re the National Football League, we’re presenting the game, these are our fans, and a lot of them are heartbroken and they’re mad,” Grubman said. “We accept the responsibility for that, and we have to figure out how to get them to give us a second chance.”
Still, the NFL doesn’t seem to be fully embracing the legal consequences arising from the failure to give the fans who paid for Super Bowl tickets the ability to attend the Super Bowl. The idea of a triple refund and a ticket to Super Bowl XLVI or a ticket plus travel to any future Super Bowl sounds good from a P.R. perspective, but it doesn’t fully account for the league’s true duty to, in our view and apparently the view of Texas law, reimburse the fans for all expenses incurred in making a futile trip to Dallas for a game they didn’t get to actually attend.
In this regard, the league needs to project a bit more contrition.
“Frankly, I’m not surprised at the litigation,” Grubman said. “But it’s not going to change the fact that we think we need to talk to our fans, tell them we’re sorry, and we need to try to make this better, and not let it happen again. I do wish people who were filing the lawsuits and the lawyers who are getting so focused on this, I wish they would work on something like world peace because I think we need to keep this in perspective. Over one hundred and sixty million people watched that game. It was a great game. Two fabulous football teams fought it out and one of them won, and it was just a thrill and it was exciting, and over a 100,000 people came to that stadium, so if you look at the defect rate its pretty small, and the NFL strives for 100 percent and that’s why we are doing this because we didn’t provide a great experience to 100 percent of the fans, but keeping a little perspective is probably what I wish the lawyers would do.”
So the message seems to be this: We’re really, really sorry, and we really wish you’d accept our apology and something less than what we’re legally required to give you after failing to give you the seat that corresponded with your Super Bowl ticket.
Though we admire the league for taking moral responsibility, the league needs to also accept legal responsibility by reimbursing the 400 fans all expenses for their bad experience, and possibly a something more for their trouble, like a ticket to any future Super Bowl. The sooner the league does that, the sooner the league can close the book on the biggest Super Bowl embarrassment since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took the stage at halftime.