Is the NFL being hypocritical in how it promotes the fantasy football platform?

Update: After admitting that it was a mistake in the first place, the ad discussed in this post has been taken down by the NFL. Way to go blogosphere! More details at the end of this post.

Remember when Arian Foster lambasted fantasy football players for not caring about him as a person, but simply having interest in his health because of his expected role in their fictional football lineups?

Well I wonder what Foster thinks about using a picture of an injured, distressed Jamaal Charles to promote their fantasy football game.

Here is the picture (hat tip to #1 Texans fan Steph Stradley for tweeting it out):


This is what Steph said about the picture being used:

C’mon @NFL this Jamaal Charles ad for your fantasy football site is creepy, awful, dehumanizing #Chiefs #NFL #Meat

And I agree that it is creepy to see an image of a clearly distraught Jamaal Charles, moments after his season ended, with the comparatively trivial question “Injury ruined your fantasy season?” right there next to it. That’s quite a juxtaposition.

Is it dehumanizing though? Arian Foster would certainly think so. And while I disagreed with Foster’s general argument as it related to him and the interest in his balky hamstring, I do think this usage of Charles’ is on another level completely and that it is dehumanizing.

It also seems highly hypocritical. For a league that speaks often about taking injuries seriously, how are we supposed to reconcile trivializing a major injury by exploiting it to generate fantasy football signups? I’m not sure I can quite articulate what I think is wrong about this…but I just know this struck me as wrong, certainly hypocritical, the minute I saw it.

What do you think? Are Steph and I taking this too seriously, or is the NFL displaying serious tone-deafness in its choice to use this image of an injured Charles in such a way?

Do you have a problem with this picture of an injured Jamaal Charles being used to promote the fantasy platform?

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I’ll tell you this much: As also pointed out by Steph Stradley, I’m sure Chris Johnson is none to pleased to see his own image being used to promote the NFL fantasy platform, though at least in his case it’s about underperformance rather than a season-ending injury.

Update: As I often do, I emailed this article to a few sports writers I respect to get their opinion and gauge whether I was being hypercritical of the NFL in this case. I was emboldened when the first response back was from Robert Littal of Black Sports Online, who always has a fair, level-headed take on sports issues, and here was his response:

“I just wrote about it. Saw the pic about 30 mins ago. I feel bad for Charles. Makes him seem like a piece of meat.”

And indeed Rob did write about it, independently expressing the same thoughts and feelings I did about 10 minutes prior to me publishing this. Great minds think alike, right?

Update: And here is Andrew Sharp of SBNation expressing much the same opinion as well. Sharp also includes the screenshot of a rather scathing tweet by Vikings’ punter Chris Kluwe, which shows that this is not just the blogosphere getting its collective panties in a bunch:

Bad move NFL. Let’s hope this ad is moved from the rotation soon. For a league as obsessed with its image as the NFL is, I’m sure it will be.

Update: As predicted by Jim Trotter of, looks like the NFL quickly reversed field on this one, though I have no confirmed this independently. Te ad in question was in a rotation on the front page. It’s not there when I just checked, so let’s hope that means it was remove permanently. If so, smart move, but a dumb decision to put it up there in the first place.

Update: According to Greg Aiello, the NFL’s head of PR, the Jamaal Charles ad was taken down as soon as it was seen. He described it as “a mistake by fantasy football marketing.”

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. I think the race to the bottom is complete, time to get back to enjoying the game rather than the fantasy stats obsession. College Football seems to survive just fine that way…

  2. Martyballin' says:

    For the first time in 15 years, I freed myself from the shackles of fantasy football…You don't realize what a waste of time and effort it is until you get out of the game. Finally, I'm just watching the games and enjoying the action instead of hyperanalyzing every garbage-time stat or second-guessing my draft every time someone else scores a TD.

    • "You don't realize what a waste of time and effort it is until you get out of the game."

      While I don't doubt that you found this to be the case, I'd be careful about speaking in absolutes for everyone. For some people, fantasy football is a lot of fun and a great way to keep old groups of friends together. I also play in leagues with my dad and brother and it gives us a chance to have some fun competition even though we live in different places. Sure, the outcomes are rather trivial, and it does lead to things that irrelevant in real football being hyperanalyzed, but just as I don't think people should be criticized for NOT playing fantasy football, neither should people who do play. (And you weren't necessarily doing this, so here I am speaking in general.)

  3. Not to sound mean, but a lot of people (outside of KC) wouldn't even know who Jamaal Charles was if not for Fantasy Football.

    • This is a good point…but it still smack of hypocricy (at least I think it does) for the NFL to speak so much publicly about being concerned for injuries, then trivialize it in such a way. There are plenty of ways to promote the fantasy platform. This just really seemed insensitive and unnecessary; to their credit, they acted pretty swiftly to remove it.

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