The NFL has had a rough year when it comes to public relations. And now a major change is coming to the NFL’s public relations department.
Via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, executive V.P. of communications and public affairs Paul Hicks is leaving the NFL. He’ll join the Glover Park Group, a firm that provides P.R. advice to the NFL. It’s not known whether Hicks will be working directly with the league.
It’s also unclear whether Hicks chose to leave, was nudged, or feared that a nudge was coming. Some believe that the ultimate fallout of #DeflateGate won’t be a new Commissioner but a new structure beneath him — a process that apparently commenced with the hiring of Tod Leiweke to serve as the NFL’s Chief Operating Officer, a position that had been vacant since Roger Goodell had been promoted from COO to Commissioner.
As one source explained it after Leiweke arrived, the goal will be to cut down on the number of people who directly report to Goodell. Also, Leiweke will assist with day-to-day management and coordination between departments while serving as the conduit between Goodell and those departments.
In many respects, Hicks and general counsel Jeff Pash served previously as the conduit between Commissioner and the various departments he supervised. With another layer added between Hicks and Goodell, it’s not surprising that Hicks would decide to move on voluntarily — especially if he sensed that an involuntary parting was inevitable.
UPDATE 11:20 a.m. ET: Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Hicks will continue to contribute to NFL projects as part of Glover Park Group’s New York office. Leiweke will lead the search for an internal replacement.