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Much of Midtown Manhattan was covered with dark clouds on Tuesday afternoon, the threat of a storm hanging over the city.
The gray sky was an apt backdrop for an NFL event to celebrate the league’s stylish team apparel, designed with football’s sizable female fan base (more than 45 percent of supporters) in mind.
For the past two weeks, a metaphorical cloud has been hanging over the NFL, and its female supporters, as the league continues to deal with an ongoing domestic-violence scandal.
But the women at Tuesday’s Hall of Fashion celebration, showcasing stylish team T-shirts and other pieces of clothing and accessories, were adamant that the NFL continues to value the women cheering on their favorite teams.
Dallas Cowboys chief brand officer and owner Jerry Jones’ daughter, Charlotte Jones Anderson, said the NFL’s support for women is still “100 percent.”
“I think the female fan base is incredibly important to who we are as a team, who we are as an organization and who we are as a community,” Jones Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re a respite and entertainment and something that people can be proud of.”
But she acknowledged that the league is working to address issues of off-the-field violence, which she said are particularly important to women and mothers.
“I think that our relationship with our female fans is so important to what we do. Forty-five percent of our fan base is female, and as a female in the league and as a female owner and a female fan of football and as a mom, this is very important to us, the issues are very important. And I think we’ve shown that although they were mishandled in the beginning, [the NFL is] taking the right steps to correct course,” Jones Anderson said.
Jennifer Matthews, the sister of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and part of a big football family, also conceded that the NFL is addressing the domestic-violence issue but wanted to keep the evening’s focus on style.
“I don’t support domestic violence in any regard. It’s always wrong,” Matthews said. “But the NFL’s working on that and hopefully tonight we can focus on fashion and more of the fun, positive side.”
But model, Chicago Bears fan and brand ambassador Erin Heatherton said this was the perfect event to show how much the league values empowered women.
“This is all about women’s empowerment. A lot of women are here not only because they’re fans but because they’re athletes and involved in the NFL, and we’re here to celebrate them and their work,” she told THR. “I’m an athlete and playing sports is always something that made me feel really empowered, and it’s really part of who I am.”
Heatherton added that not only does she believe the NFL’s still “so committed” to its female fans, but she also feels that women keep the league going.
“I think the females behind the scenes run the NFL. The women involved are such die-hard fans, and they do so much to make things work and make things innovative,” she said.
Others on hand showing off their favorite NFL apparel and checking out more team gear at the glitzy cocktail party included Jordin Sparks, current New York Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith, Phillip Bloch, creative style director for NFL women’s apparel, and style strategist Rachel Johnson.
The event also gave guests a chance to photograph themselves in their favorite team gear and tag it #NFLfanSTYLE on Instagram, as part of a digital Hall of Fashion that fans can continue throughout the season.
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