It appears commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL have found a potential face for Operation Mom.
And it wouldn’t be a stretch to think they’re trying to make sure they stay on her good side.
Goodell, who is not what you’d call an active Twitter user, just stepped out to pander to Annie Apple — the mother of Giants first-rounder Eli Apple, who is on the verge of becoming a star in her own right by virtue of her new job as an ESPN contributor.
The timing is practically impossible to miss. At a time when those within the sport feel like they’re under attack, using a movie premiere about one of the sport’s inspirational figures is no accident. It’s worth noting that one of Goodell’s other four tweets from the last 25 days was directed at Gleason’s wife Michel, and if you go past those four, the previous one was congratulating a female staffer for winning an award. It’s as if there’s a carefully planned strategy.
It’s also amusing to see Apple describe Goodell as “personable and hilarious,” two words rarely associated with him in his current post.
But Apple is also a potentially valuable ally for Goodell and the league, as her plain-spoken and protective charm were evident in the days leading up to the draft. She defended her son when he was criticized for not being able to cook, gently scolded him about the excess of expensive jewelry and warned about the danger of “thirsty girls.”
Having a strong mama-bear figure with enough media savvy to sell the message is invaluable to a league that is scrambling to make sure the mothers of their potential labor pool aren’t scared of the game.
It’s not the first time Goodell has reached out to her, sending her brownies after she tweeted about the lack of dessert in the green room.
But she’s already finding out what being attached to Goodell means, as the replies to his tweet seem to have alarmed her.
It will be interesting to watch the progress of her son’s career. Because at the moment, everything is good. But if the business of football ends up chewing him up and spitting him out — as it does many of its participants — she might not be so much of an advocate.
So reaching out now to give her an electronic hug — and thereby keeping her close — is probably a good idea for the NFL, and probably not an accident.