The NBA has been quite forward with their criticism of North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law, going so far as to threaten pulling the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.
But the NFL has been more careful in its public relations efforts, though commissioner Roger Goodell offered the league’s firmest stance yet as he closed today’s owner’s meeting.
“Anything that discriminates, we oppose,” Goodell said when asked about North Carolina’s House Bill 2. “We will continue to fight that. We have a franchise here. The Carolina Panthers play here, they operate here, and we want to work with the community. We’re not going to threaten a community.
“We’re going to work with the community to make the effective changes necessary long term.”
So far, the league hasn’t done all that much, beyond the normal proclamations of inclusiveness.
Earlier Tuesday, 49ers owner Jed York made a $75,000 donation to Equality NC, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group. He also called for North Carolina to repeal House Bill 2, the controversial measure that requires people to go to the bathroom of their birth gender rather than as they identify.
While Panthers owner Jerry Richardson didn’t talk to reporters at these meetings, team spokesman Steven Drummond said the team’s position was clear: “Our organization is against discrimination and has a long history of treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect. The Panthers have and will continue to engage key stakeholders on this important issue.”
Other owners, however, are more careful. Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s city just won a Super Bowl bid, in part because Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious liberty” bill, which opponents claimed was discriminatory. But when asked Tuesday if the league was comfortable doing business in North Carolina because of their law, Blank replied: “You’d have to ask the commissioner that.”
Goodell said he talked to Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts Monday, saying he supports her efforts as the league tries to walk a political line which some find more fine than others.
But Tuesday’s statement was as much as they’ve said so far.