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PepsiCo CEO Slams "Repugnant Behavior" Of NFL Players

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's CEO and chairwoman issued a statement today addressing the NFL's "mishandling" of "the repugnant behavior of a few players."

Last updated on September 18, 2014, at 1:09 a.m. ET

Posted on September 18, 2014, at 1:09 a.m. ET

Donald Heupel / Reuters

PepsiCo CEO and chairwoman Indra Nooyi called out the NFL's "mishandling" of child abuse and domestic violence cases, while also showing support for Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement late Wednesday.

"I am a mother, a wife, and a passionate football fan," Nooyi wrote in a statement dated Sept. 18. "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. When it comes to child abuse and domestic violence, there is no middle ground."

Goodell, she added, is "a man of integrity," and she is "confident that he will do the right thing for the league in light of the serious issues it is facing."

Nooyi, of course, is attempting to address the uproar surrounding ex-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson. The NFL indefinitely suspended Rice earlier this month after TMZ published the full video showing Ray Rice punching his then fiancée, Janay Rice, and dragging her out of a casino elevator; Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges Friday for beating his son.

The reason this matters for PepsiCo is that the food and beverage company is said to pay upwards of $100 million a year for its official sponsor designation with the NFL. Nooyi is trying to speak up while also maintaining that relationship. Before tonight, PepsiCo hadn't said too much outside of releasing a statement saying that "domestic violence is completely unacceptable." The company added at that time: "We are encouraged to see the NFL is now treating this with the seriousness it deserves."

Nooyi is a significant figure — she's the CEO of a major American company and is regularly ranked among the most powerful women in the world.

Many fans are disappointed by how the NFL has handled the allegations against Rice and Peterson to this point. While Nooyi is trying to weigh in diplomatically, it's worth noting that PepsiCo's press page, at publication time, focuses entirely on the perks of its relationship with the league.

The top headline at the page states: "PepsiCo Brands Bring the NFL Experience to Life on the Field, In the Stands and at Home." Links are provided to sponsor content on other news websites, touting the vast benefits of the partnership between the NFL and PepsiCo. A release from Sept. 9 outlines the enormity of the partnership — a 31-year relationship, 185 million domestic NFL fans, and participation out of multiple PepsiCo brands from Gatorade to Quaker to Doritos.

Nooyi, while reprimanding the league for what's occurred thus far, was clear that she and PepsiCo support the NFL right now.

"Over the past several days, it is increasingly apparent that the NFL is starting to treat these issues with the seriousness they deserve," she said. "Hiring former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct a thorough investigation is a positive step, as is hiring three prominent women with significant, relevant expertise and assigning another, who is an NFL official, to help shape its domestic violence policies."

"These individuals must now be given the necessary time to review all relevant facts so that corrective actions can be taken, and well-tailored and effective policies against domestic violence and child abuse can be implemented immediately."

Full Statement from PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi:

"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. When it comes to child abuse and domestic violence, there is no middle ground. The behaviors are disgusting, absolutely unacceptable, and completely fly in the face of the values we at PepsiCo believe in and cherish.

"Given PepsiCo's long-standing partnership with the NFL, I know Roger Goodell. We have worked together for many years. I know him to be a man of integrity, and I am confident that he will do the right thing for the league in light of the serious issues it is facing.

"Over the past several days, it is increasingly apparent that the NFL is starting to treat these issues with the seriousness they deserve. Hiring former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct a thorough investigation is a positive step, as is hiring three prominent women with significant, relevant expertise and assigning another, who is an NFL official, to help shape its domestic violence policies. These individuals must now be given the necessary time to review all relevant facts so that corrective actions can be taken, and well-tailored and effective policies against domestic violence and child abuse can be implemented immediately.

"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. I urge them to seize this moment. How they handle these cases going forward can help shape how we, as a nation, as a society, and as individuals treat domestic violence and child abuse."

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