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The NFL's Women Summit Was The Mindless Pandering It Always Was Meant To Be

Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

First, let’s get this out of the way: The NFL and its franchises are a corporate enterprise. They exist to make money. They don’t exist to do anything else. They do not exist to make this a better world. They do not exist to uplift anyone. They do not exist to enact change on inequality or ending poverty or systemic racism or misogyny or violence against women or Me Too or Time’s Up or whatever catchphrase to end sexual harassment that we’re on now. They exist to make money, preferably lots of money. The rest is just marketing.

Still, it’s fair to judge marketing. It isn’t all the worst. Sometimes, commercials make me cry. Sometimes, they aren’t openly discriminatory and even try to reflect diverse experiences. I accept that marketing must exist because that’s the world I live in.


But, that said, it is truly amazing how truly shitty the NFL leadership is at treating women like basic human beings with functioning brains who can tell when they are pandered at. And yet, that is the only explanation that I can come up with for the NFL’s Women’s Summit, now in its third year and still as stupid and insulting as ever. Seriously, look at this shit:


I would like to, at this point, seriously applaud Weiner for somehow keeping enough composure to tweet about this. Meanwhile, you also got this at the event.


I cannot bring myself to be as conciliatory as Melissa Jacobs, who said it “misses the mark,” in part because I’ve hated this damn summit since it started in 2016. It is what it is: A thing they can point to the next time someone connected to the NFL screws up so they can say, “Actually, we love women here.” Of course it’s hot garbage.


The majority of NFL history suggests team owners and leadership see women as little more than things that need to be dealt with. They deal with it when women want to work for the NFL, coming up with borderline meaningless policies that they never offer updates on, like the female version of the Rooney Rule they announced at the first (equally stupid) summit and haven’t been quoted about in the major sporting press since. They come up with domestic-violence policies that are, at best, ineffective and at worst put women in more danger because they’re really just PR devices. They still do Pinktober. They throw women empty bones and expect us to be stupid enough to be happy with our bones!

I don’t know what is sadder—that the NFL expects this shit to work, or that anyone still holds out hope that this collection of old, predominantly male millionaires and billionaires will suddenly wake up and realize that women are fully formed human beings who watch football, play football, and would deserve to be treated as equals. Except that is not their job. Their job is to make money, and that’s all this was ever about.

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About the author

Diana Moskovitz

Senior editor at Deadspin

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