A pink referee penalty flag is seen on the ground during a game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field on October 6, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Procter & Gamble has reportedly put the kibosh on a "major initiative" with the NFL because of the league's ongoing domestic violence controversy.
The nixed deal would be the largest, and most tangible, blowback for the league since its treatment of domestic abusers became a national mainstream topic of outrage in July. Other brands have issued critical statements, but none have so far been reported to ax league-wide sponsorship deals.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Thursday evening that Procter & Gamble's Crest toothpaste brand was going to participate in a "significant, league-wide initiative" for the NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness month, which takes place every October. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, players wear pink accessories on the field, referees use pink penalty flags and the league heavily promotes pink jerseys marketed toward women and hyped to support the fight against breast cancer.
Neither Procter & Gamble nor Crest representatives immediately responded to Mashable's request for further comment.
The NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness Month has drawn heavy criticism in recent years, however, because the league reportedly donates just a small portion of its proceeds toward cancer research. Given the criticism the NFL has drawn recently for its regard for women and domestic violence victims, its Breast Cancer Awareness Month promotions may be mocked even more this October. A reasonable assumption is that Procter & Gamble did not want to be associated with that criticism.
La Canfora reported the Crest campaign was supposed to involve "multiple players on each of the NFL's 32 teams." They would have worn pink mouthguards and promoted the partnership on social media. But those players were just notified that the deal had been scrapped, La Canfora said.
Procter & Gamble does still sponsor the NFL with other brands it owns. Its CoverGirl makeup brand's NFL sponsorship was widely ripped this week on social media. Tide is another NFL sponsor owned by Procter & Gamble.
The hotel chain Radisson suspended its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings this week after star running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child-injury for a "whooping" he gave his son with a wooden switch. Beer company and longtime NFL sponsor Anheuser-Busch issued a strong statement criticizing the NFL's handling of domestic abuse instances, but maintains its league sponsorship.
Late Thursday night, meanwhile, the National Domestic Violence Hotline announced a longterm commitment from the NFL to provide "much-needed resources" to help the support center aid domestic abuse victims.
Tags: ADVERTISING, ENTERTAINMENT, NFL, SPORTS