PepsiCo boss decries NFL problems, backs Goodell

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PepsiCo boss decries NFL problems, backs Goodell
After months of criticism over the NFL's handling of domestic-abuse cases, Commissioner Roger Goodell is announcing a plan for how he intends to fix the problem. He sat for an interview with WSJ's Monica Langley.
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a press conference on October 8, 2014 in New York City. Goodell addressed the media at the conclusion of the annual Fall league meeting in the wake of a string of high-profile incidents, including the domestic violence case of Ray Rice. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft speaks at an NFL press conference announcing new measures for the league's personal conduct policy during an owners meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Irving, Texas. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell looks on at left. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, looks on as Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson speaks at an NFL press conference during an owners meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leaves the courthouse with his wife Ashley Brown Peterson Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Conroe, Texas. Adrian Peterson avoided jail time on in a plea agreement reached with prosecutors to resolve his child abuse case. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
FILE - In this July 28, 2014, file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks on during NFL football training camp in Mankato, Minn. Peterson acknowledges he struck his young son with a branch, but insists he did not commit a crime. That belief is to draw further attention this week when the case against the Vikings' star running back goes before a Texas judge. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Ray Rice arrives with his wife Janay Palmer for an appeal hearing of his indefinite suspension from the NFL, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett carries the ball in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Baltimore. Forsett got his chance when Ray Rice got cut for his domestic violence case. "He's got great vision, is very elusive and hard to tackle," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks to the podium during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on September 19, 2014 in New York City. Goodell spoke about the NFL's failure to address domestic violence, sexual assault and drug abuse in the league. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on September 19, 2014 in New York City. Goodell spoke about the NFL's failure to address domestic violence, sexual assault and drug abuse in the league. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, with Adrian Peterson RB out of Oklahoma chosen seventh by the Minnesota Vikings during the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY on Saturday, April 28, 2007. (Photo by Richard Schultz/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Baltimore Ravens football player and former Rutgers University standout, Ray Rice holds hands with his wife Janay Palmer as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J., Thursday, May 1, 2014. After Rice and Janay Palmer got into a physical altercation on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino, both were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Attorney Gloria Allred, left, leaves at a news conference with Clarence Watley, the father of Rasheedah Watley, a former girlfriend of NFL football player Brandon Marshall, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Watley said his his daughter was abused by Marshall. Watley is calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign because he's disappointed in the way the league handled his daughter's abuse case, calling the investigation one-sided. Marshall was suspended for three games in 2008, but the suspension was reduced to one game, and he has denied the allegations. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Baltimore Ravens football player and former Rutgers University standout, Ray Rice holds hands with his wife Janay Palmer as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J., Thursday, May 1, 2014. After Rice and Janay Palmer got into a physical altercation on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino, both were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Clarence Watley, right, the father of Rasheedah Watley, who he said was abused by her former boyfriend NFL football player Brandon Marshall, speaks at a news conference with with attorney Gloria Allred, center, and Kristeena Spivey, left, a friend of Rasheedah's, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Watley is calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign because he's disappointed in the way the league handled his daughter's abuse case, calling the investigation one-sided. Marshall was suspended for three games in 2008, but the suspension was reduced to one game, and he has denied the allegations. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (R) walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 21, 2011, file photo, Jeff Pash, lead counsel for the NFL, speaks during a news conference at the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans. The two NFL owners overseeing the investigation into how the league pursued and handled evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case pledged Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to make the findings of the probe public, and said their goal was "to get the truth." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2014, file photo, NFL chief security officer Jeffrey Miller speaks during a news conference about security measures set for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.J. The two NFL owners overseeing the investigation into how the league pursued and handled evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case pledged Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to make the findings of the probe public, and said their goal was "to get the truth." (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, former NFL football player Troy Vincent speaks during a news conference in New Orleans. The two NFL owners overseeing the investigation into how the league pursued and handled evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case pledged Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to make the findings of the probe public, and said their goal was "to get the truth." (AP Photo/Doug Benc, File)
FILE - In this March 25, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a news conference at the NFL football annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. Players will be subject to a six-week suspension for a first domestic violence offense and banishment from the league for a second under a new policy outlined by Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter and memo sent to all 32 teams owners Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, and obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
FILE - In this March 10, 2014, file photo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks during a news conference in Brunswick, Maine. Gov. Paul LePage, outraged that National Football League player Ray Rice received only a two-game suspension for a domestic violence arrest, pledged to boycott the league and called on its commissioner to take the issue seriously, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, left, address members of the media during a football safety clinic for mothers, Thursday, May 29, 2014 at the team's facilities in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (R) walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell takes the field before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos in East Rutherford, N.J. A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL employee five months ago, while league executives have insisted they didn't see the violent images until they were published this week. The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number confirming the video arrived on April 9. A female voice expresses thanks for providing the video and says: "You're right. It's terrible." Goodell sent a memo on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014, to the 32 teams reiterating that the NFL never saw the video until Monday, Sept. 8. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talks to players at Wake Forest High School in Wake Forest, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. He observed practice, talked to the players and took questions from the media. He was there to promote the NFL's Heads Up player safety program. He also took questions about the Ray Rice incident. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
FILE - In this May 23, 2014, file photo, Janay Rice, left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee to an NFL executive five months ago, while league officers have insisted they didn't see the violent images until this week. The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: "You're right. It's terrible." (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Rice and his wife Janay spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his then-fiance at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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By MAE ANDERSON

NEW YORK (AP) -- PepsiCo Inc.'s CEO Indra Nooyi has made a double-edged statement on the NFL's problems handling domestic violence, calling some players' behavior "repugnant" but saying that Commissioner Roger Goodell is "a man of integrity."

The boss of the maker of Pepsi, Gatorade and Doritos, one of the league's biggest advertisers and sponsor of last year's Super Bowl halftime show, issued a statement late Wednesday that criticized the league but also expressed optimism that it can fix its problems.

The league and its teams have come under fire over the past two weeks over how it is dealing with several players with domestic violence allegations against them. An investigation has been launched into whether Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about or saw a video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee earlier than he said.

The praise from a woman CEO of one of the largest food-and-drink makers in the world could give Goodell a boost as he faces continued calls for his resignation.

Manish Tripathi, assistant marketing professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said Nooyi's support of Goodell was actually more risky than other sponsors' statements.

"It's such a no-risk thing to come out against domestic violence, waving their finger but not pulling any money," he said. "What Pepsi did is a little more interesting, they waved the finger but supported Roger Goodell. ... If you're Roger Goodell, this is definitely helpful."

Nooyi also decried the "repugnant behavior of a few players and the NFL's acknowledged mishandling of these issues," in a statement late Wednesday.

Most major sponsors have voiced disapproval, with Budweiser beer maker Anheuser-Busch, another one of the biggest, saying it was "increasingly concerned" about the situation.

But despite the lip service, it would be difficult for a sponsor to actually give up on the NFL's power as a marketing machine. An average of 17.4 million people tune in during a regular season NFL game, about 65 percent men and 35 percent women, according to Nielsen. During the Super Bowl, that ratchets up to 111.5 million watchers.

In addition to the support for Goodell, Nooyi praised the decision to hire three women executives to help shape its domestic violence policies.

"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," she said in a statement.

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