MORE FROM WUSSVILLE:’Softer’ NFL Trying To Alter Image To Attract More Female Fans

Published on October 31, 2013

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) As Ndamukong Suh gets fined not just for crunching opponents’ knees, but also for touching his helmet to another player’s chest, it’s safe to say the NFL is softer than it was in years past.

Let’s sum it up this way: Victoria’s Secret makes NFL sleepwear for college girls.

In this case, the secret’s out of the bag. The NFL is working to broaden its fan base, and many believe that’s one of the reasons the game is changing, evolving as it tries to maintain its hold on the hearts and minds of Americans. Efforts at marketing to women have brought 16-page women’s magazine spreads breaking down the game, girly NFL T-shirts, aprons and oven mitts.

There’s the ongoing concussion situation, but Lawrence Jackson, a free agent who played for Detroit from ’10 to ’12, told CBS Detroit’s Ashley Dunkak one of the factors in the game’s changing on-field dynamics could also be more women watching the game.

Talking about how the NFL used to glorify hits that would result in suspensions and fines today, he said, “Back at that time, football was still growing in popularity,” Jackson said. “The perception was different. There weren’t as many women watching the game.

“The enormity, I would say, of the game was different. It was not a global brand, on top of the fact that they weren’t studying concussions like they are now. There were still a lot of those players from that era and eras before where those kind of hits were glorified, and a lot of those guys struggled. The league’s changed to a more offensive league, and people want to see that paid entertainment…”

The NFL says the two — marketing to women and stricter on-field regulations — are not connected. Rather, changing on-field play is connected to greater health and safety standards and those standards are being explained to women as part of an overall marketing effort aimed at adding them to the football fold, insiders say.

A clinic was held this weekend at the Chicago Bears facility to educate women, presumably mothers, about the health and safety of football with a focus on “safer tackling techniques.”

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