Report: Anheuser-Busch can end NFL contract without penalty

Anheuser-Busch has long been one of the NFL’s most prominent sponsors. However, if the brewing company is concerned enough with the league’s bad press to decide to end its contract, apparently it could do so without penalty.

A source with a copy of the six-year, $1.2 billion contract told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that Anheuser-Busch could "unilaterally end" its deal with the NFL if a "league-wide" event "brings the entire NFL, not just particular member clubs, players, coaches or employees, into national disrepute, scandal or ridicule."

There has been plenty of scandal in the NFL over the past few weeks. Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken considerable criticism and his handling of Ray Rice’s suspension for domestic violence is under investigation. Shortly after the Rice incident, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on a charge of injury to a child. Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting a female in July, and Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested this week on domestic violence charges.

The source added that Anheuser-Busch must prove that the "event" has lost its company significant business, which, as Rovell notes, might be hard to prove, as the NFL’s TV ratings and merchandise sales remain high. The beer company released a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday saying it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned" by the recent incidents that have marred the NFL.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster fired back at the beer giant, but other big sponsors have followed suit.

Pepsi announced that it’s "deeply disturbed" by the NFL’s handling of domestic violence cases, and Procter & Gamble reportedly has terminated its partnership with the NFL in a major cancer-fighting initiative.

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