It’s no secret that the NFL is facing a reputation crisis, on a variety of fronts. With 2013 being called “a very bad year” for the NFL, words will be difficult to describe how badly 2014 ends (reputationally), if the league continues on its current path of self-destruction.

A common thread to the concussion crisis and domestic assault crisis involves physical injury — and the league’s failure to act (contrary to its significant short term financial interest).

In the midst of the current crisis, much has been said about protecting the shield — yeah, the one to the right. As Mike Lupica wrote for the Daily News:

“We all get why these guys protect ‘the shield’ at all costs. But if that shield can’t properly protect its own players, or the women in their lives — or the children — what does it stand for, really?”

Kent Hollenbeck of The Holmes Report has offered some sensible advice:

“[I]f the NFL wants to bring any measure of authenticity back to itself – they could begin by stopping their self-inflicted harm of the shield, and begin repairing it. “

At the risk of piling on to the monumental opportunities in reputation-rebuilding for the NFL to consider, I’m thinking it is long past due to extend beyond the NFL’s forced focus on physical harm to include a focus on psychological harm too, starting with the harm the league perpetuates against Native Americans.

How much longer before the league takes responsibility for its ongoing use and protection of a racial slur as the name for the NFL franchise located in our nation’s capital? Did Mr. Snyder ever read and take to heart, “Enough — An Open Letter to Dan Snyder,” by David Zirin of Grantland?

Apparently not, but the league can and should take action before the USPTO’s decision to revoke the R-word federal registrations becomes final, and before its failure to act on this issue is more widely ridiculed.

The Daily Show’s piece entitled “The Redskins Name — Catching Racism,” was brilliant in highlighting the ridiculousness of Snyder’s steadfast refusal to face the facts while he clings to the past. Perhaps the Jon Stewart and Jason Jones piece and other recent comedic pieces like South Park’s “Go Fund Yourself” will help to inform those who still don’t get it — and to help shrink the sad disconnect among those who recognize the inappropriate nature of the R-word yet don’t want the team to change its name.

Seth Godin’s blog post from yesterday could be applied to the NFL’s current crisis, it seems to me: Failure “is almost always the result of missed opportunities, a series of bad choices and the rust that comes from things gradually getting worse. Things don’t usually explode. They melt.”

So, will the NFL use the present crisis as an opportunity to drop kick or simply retire the R-word?

Or, will it continue to measure short term profits while it watches the shield continue to melt?