|Abstract: ||This study analyzes the crisis response strategies used by the National Football League in its external communications to address the concussion crisis spanning 2015 to 2020. The analysis focused on describing the crisis communication strategies, tactics and buffers used by the League. To do so, this research first used Coomb’s situational crisis communication theory to analyze crisis response strategies. It then used the buffering effect to analyze buffers. This was accomplished by conducting a deductive thematic analysis of 25 publications published by the NFL on nflcommunications.com. The results indicate that the NFL focused on the primary crisis strategies of rebuilding and diminishing, employing tactics such as organizational change and shared responsibility. The NFL also used the bolstering strategies of reminder and ingratiation.
The NFL leveraged three buffers in its communications: corporate social responsibility
reputation, prior relationship reputation and sports fan communities. The results show an interrelation between situational crisis communication theory and the concept of buffers.|