Sorry, Not Sorry: Image Reparation in the NFL



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This thesis is a rhetorical analysis of current trends in image reparation strategies used by the National Football League (NFL) in an effort to restore goodwill with its stakeholders following perceived transgressions. The 2014/2015 NFL season is discussed and analyzed using the lens of Image Reparation Theory. This research also set out to discover whether or not the NFL’s image repair strategies were rhetorically successful. Findings include the application of three general strategies; corrective action, evasion of responsibility, and reduce offensiveness; and the five sub-strategies of defeasibility, minimization, differentiation, attack the accuser, and bolstering. The implications of this research concludes that in sports image repair, use of the contradictory strategies of corrective action with defeasibility, or corrective action used with differentiation or minimization, is not universally effective. Bolstering likely is the key strategy to apply as it is consistently successful across stakeholders. The importance of strategic and proactive organizational communication cannot be overstated, consistency in player discipline is desperately needed in the NFL, and finally, dissociation of players who have engaged in an extreme transgression is suggested.



National Football League, image reparation theory, image reparation strategies, apologetic rhetoric, sports apologia, antapologia


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