Should the Steelers Sack Tull As An Owner?
It’s difficult to say how much businesses actually make by putting their names on sports arenas. Perhaps some do, and perhaps others do not. Nonetheless, Tull could stand to make a tidy profit in that he potentially shares in revenue brought into the Steelers organization and in potential revenue Acrisure generates over the deal. So he certainly does not want to see the agreement nixed.
However, one additional element raises questions. After awarding the rights to Acrisure and then receiving severe backlash, it did not take the Steelers long to finalize a second deal to bring Kraft-Heinz back into the equation. They quickly agreed that they would still sponsor the redzone paving the way to bring the ketchup bottle back but in a less conspicuous location.
Given the speed at which the deal occurred, one must wonder. Was that all over the backlash from Steelers fans, a role played by Tull, or perhaps both? Also, it begs the question of how complicit the Rooney’s were with Tull in the stadium naming process.
While there are serious questions, it’s doubtful this will remain a story once the Steelers take the field in their first pre-season game. At that point, everyone will focus on winning a Superbowl, whether Trubisky or Pickett will yuck things up or their Fantasy football team with rookie wide receiver George Pickens.
Still, the media should at least investigate the situation deeper, as nothing seems entirely kosher with the events that occurred in the naming process. The Steelers should at least have their feet held to the fire and answer a few difficult questions if anything else. Or the Steelers could deflect some scrutiny by wither terminating the deal with Acrisure or at least asking Tull to step down as a part owner for the time being, at least as long as they decide to keep the Acrisure name on the stadium.
Perhaps situations like this may have occurred with other sports franchises. However, this is the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team ripe with tradition and one very tied to the Pittsburgh community. To that end, fans do expect some transparency from the Steelers organization, and this is one of those times.
If not, perhaps it’s time the NFL league office steps in to review such naming deals to ensure there is no conflict of interest. However, to borrow, albeit a modified quote, from Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin over the USC story, “anyone asking the Green Bay Packers about stuff like that.”