PepsiCo’s CEO Confident Goodell Will Do ‘the Right Thing’

PepsiCo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi said she is “confident” that Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, “will do the right thing” regarding cases of domestic violence involving some of its players, including Ray Rice.

“When it comes to child abuse and domestic violence, there is no middle ground,” Nooyi said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “I am a mother, a wife, and a passionate football fan. I am deeply disturbed that the repugnant behavior of a few players and the NFL’s acknowledged mishandling of these issues, is casting a cloud over the integrity of the league and the reputations of the majority of players who’ve dedicated their lives to a career they love.”

The NFL has been besieged by criticism in the wake of Goodell’s mishandling of the arrest of Rice, a former Baltimore Ravens running back, who was seen in an elevator surveillance video knocking out his fiancee. Nooyi’s comments are the first from a female CEO of a company that has a big sponsorship deal with the NFL. The female chiefs of General Motors Co. and Campbell Soup Co. have yet to comment.

Nooyi also said that the NFL had made positive moves to address the crisis, including the hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct an independent investigation of the case and the hiring of women executives to help shape its domestic violence policies.

Club Activities

Rice originally was suspended for two games by the NFL in July before being banned last week after a February video went public showing Rice punching his fiancee in the face and knocking her unconscious. Rice has appealed his indefinite suspension.

The league is also grappling with a child-abuse charge against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was held out of this past weekend’s game but cleared by the team to resume practice this week. The Vikings then reversed its decision and banned him from all club activities yesterday.

The NFL reaps about $1 billion a year in sponsor revenue from companies that include McDonald’s Corp., Visa Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Procter & Gamble Co., Verizon Communications Inc., PepsiCo, GM and Campbell Soup.

Anheuser-Busch said in a statement this week that it is disappointed and “increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season.” The company’s brands include Budweiser, a frequent Super Bowl advertiser.

“The reality for Commissioner Goodell and the NFL is that they now have an opportunity to effect positive change with the situation presented to them,” Nooyi said. “I urge them to seize this moment.”

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